BSG Ecology has one of the UK’s most experienced teams in bat survey, mitigation, licensing and assessment. We have supported schemes requiring radio tracking, large scale data analysis and complicated bat mitigation, and have provided expert witnesses on bats for Public Inquiry.
BSG Ecology staff provide industry-standard peer training, and the practice regularly undertakes small-scale bat-related research in order to further our professional understanding. We have experience of projects relating to many of the UK’s rarest bats, and have specialist knowledge of species including Bechstein’s bat, barbastelle, horseshoe bats and Nathusius’ pipistrelle.
Various of our staff also provided editorial advice and written input to the first and second editions of the Bat Conservation Trust’s national survey guidance.
Bat Survey Capability
A high proportion of our ecological staff are licensed to handle bats and use endoscopes to investigate potential roosts. Some hold enhanced licences allowing them to use of acoustic lures and capture bats in mist nets and harp traps. These latter methods are increasingly required by local authorities when determining impacts of development on species of bats, such as Bechstein’s bat, which cannot be determined by their call characteristics. One member of staff is also a Registered Consultant with Natural England, which permits them to use the Low Impact Bat Class Licence at registered sites. A few staff are also accredited to climb trees to inspect potential roost sites.
Our in-house team is complemented by regionally-based specialist sub-consultants, with whom we have long-standing relationships. This capacity and capability allows us to undertake bat survey work anywhere in the UK and Ireland to a high technical standard and enables us to deploy large teams of skilled field workers in a cost-effective manner.
Our bat survey and data analysis capability includes:
- Designing and undertaking walked transect surveys;
- Remote survey using static bat data loggers (such as SM2 and Anabat detectors);
- Building inspections:
- Assessment of the potential of building features to support bats
- Inspection of internal roof spaces and other voids for roosting bats
- Activity surveys (dawn and dusk surveys) to record bats emerging from or returning to roosts
- Collection of droppings for DNA analysis to confirm species where appropriate
- A comprehensive bat survey service for wind farm schemes, including at height survey;
- Call analysis using a variety of specialist software;
- Tree surveys, including at height inspections by licensed surveyors and use of thermal imaging and infra-red equipment where appropriate;
- Survey and assessment of underground sites/tunnels for hibernating bats;
- Mist netting surveys to establish presence of species which cannot be confirmed from call analysis, including Bechstein’s bat, and to inform impact assessment;
- Radio tracking studies to establish habitat preferences and ranging behaviour of bat species.
Bat Consultancy Services
Specialist consultancy services relating to bats include:
- Preliminary appraisals of the likely bat sensitivity of proposed development sites based on location, habitat features and (as appropriate) and initial data trawl;
- Stakeholder liaison and negotiation (including statutory and non-statutory consultees);
- Advice on the implications of legal protection afforded to bats and assistance with understanding how key terms in legislation or guidance (such as favourable conservation status) may be interpreted;
- European Protected Species licensing advice, the preparation of licence applications and supervision of their implementation, including advice on when to use the new Low Impact Class Bat Licence;
- Ecological Impact Assessment including preparation of ecology chapters for formal submission as part of an Environmental Statement (and associated reports to inform planning applications);
- Appropriate Assessment / Habitats Regulations Assessment advice in relation to Special Areas of Conservation designated for their bat interest;
- Bat mitigation:
- Design of bat friendly buildings, and the creation of roosting opportunities
- Habitat management for bats, including tree management and habitat enhancement
- The provision of expert witnesses for Public Inquiry;
- The design and implementation of post-construction monitoring for developments including wind farms.
BSG Ecology was appointed by Bellway Homes to carry out comprehensive bat surveys to inform an ecological impact assessment (EcIA) for the proposed redevelopment of the St Mary’s Hospital site. Although the site had had security protection since its abandonment, over the years general neglect and vandalism had created an environment that was perfect for roosting bats. As a result, the overall likelihood of bats being present was considered to be very high.
BSG Ecology has provided bat consultancy services to the Youth Hostel Association and National Trust on three important projects at Ilam in Derbyshire’s Peak District. These have involved the conservation and refurbishment of Ilam Hall (2008-2010), St Bertram’s Bridge (2008) and Ilam Bunk House (2010-ongoing).
We were commissioned to undertake bat survey work to inform an assessment of ecological constraints and potential impacts on bats as a result of the proposed works on the three projects. Seventeen separate bat roost locations were identified in roof voids, walls and chimneys within Ilam Hall.
Garsington Opera is an annual summer festival founded in 1989 by Leonard Ingrams; until recently it was set within the gardens of his home – Garsington Manor, Oxfordshire. Since 2011 it has been held in Wormsley Park, home of the Getty family. When the opera company needed to find a new venue for its outdoor opera festival (in 2010) Wormsley, near High Wycombe, was identified as a potential site.
The proposed development involved the construction of an illuminated auditorium, the pavilion, within an area of parkland during the summer months of each year. The Pavilion is a temporary structure which is deconstructed for the winter period each year. One particular concern about the design, however, was the possibility of the illumination of previously unlit parkland and woodland habitats, and whether this might have a negative effect on the local population of bats.