Old Beaupre Castle is a medieval manor house, modified during the Tudor period, set in rolling pastoral farmland near Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) and Grade 1 listed building, and is under the care of Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Assembly Government.
Old Beaupre supports year round roosts of lesser and greater horseshoe, brown long-eared and pipistrelle bats. It also has maternity roosts of lesser horseshoe and brown long-eared bats. It has been monitored by the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend Bat Group (VGBBG) for many years.
BSG Ecology has a well-established working relationship with Cadw, who got in touch when they secured funding to carry out restoration works at Old Beaupre.
BSG Ecology’s role in the project
BSG Ecology carried out a programme of surveys over a 2 year period to verify the data provided by the VGBBG and to identify flight-lines to provide sufficient baseline understanding of the bat populations to inform a future EPS Licence application to Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) (now Natural Resources Wales). Our survey work included daytime inspections, emergence/re-entry surveys and static data logger surveys.
It was agreed with CCW that some of the work could be carried out immediately under the supervision of a suitably experienced ecologist, but certain elements would require a European Protected Species (EPS) licence, under the terms of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010 as amended).
Repair work, aimed at restoring the architecturally important stonework features on the castle, was carried out in 2009 without an EPS licence, but overseen by BSG Ecology. BSG provided advice on the appropriate timing and methods to employ to ensure that no offence was likely to be committed. This included the replacement of window and door lintels and repair to plaster work on windows.
We successfully applied for the EPS licence which meant that the installation of four doors, and replacement of damaged windows could proceed. The doors were purposed-built with a gap at the top to ensure that access to bats to and from roosts was maintained. The doors were also robustly constructed to improve roosting conditions for bats by allowing a stable temperature to be maintained and by increasing the levels of darkness. One room, which supports a lesser horseshoe bat maternity roost in the chimney, was permanently closed off to the public to avoid disturbance and to increase the suitability of the entire room for the roosting bats. Other measures to avoid harm to bats during the work, included timing the works to avoid the bat breeding season, an induction session for contractors, and the presence of an ecologist on-site whilst the doors and windows were being fitted.
BSG Ecology has completed the post-works monitoring programme under the terms of the EPS licence. This has involved winter and summer surveys of the roosts for four years following the work. The monitoring surveys have shown that the works have not affected the bat roosts at Old Beaupre, and good populations of lesser horseshoe and brown long-eared bat are present. The room where the lesser horseshoe bat maternity roost is present, also supports a barn owl nest. Barn owls are listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), which protects them from disturbance whilst nesting. This added another dimension to the summer monitoring visits, requiring that the surveyor entering this room had an appropriate licence to disturb barn owls as well as bats. This project has been one of a series of successful working collaborations between BSG Ecology and Cadw.