Bats

On 14 March 2019 BSG Ecology, Womble Bond Dickinson and Scottish Power Renewables collaborated to deliver a seminar to wind farm developers and asset managers on the implications of recent guidance concerning bats and onshore wind farms published by Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales. This was the second of two planned seminars on the subject, and took place at the Citizen M Hotel in central Glasgow.
As many of our ecologists are actively working towards bat survey licences or assist in bat survey work, we run in-house training to address typical gaps in their knowledge and experience. The training also helps ensure that our bat fieldwork is of a very high standard, and our commercial work is robust. The latest of these training events was a two day course held in our Oxford office in February 2019.
On 8 January 2019 Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) published “Bats and Onshore Wind Turbines: Survey, Assessment and Mitigation.” This is now the industry standard, and formally replaces Natural England’s TIN 051 and Chapter 10 of the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) Guidance (Hundt, 2012). It is endorsed by all the statutory nature conservation stakeholders and by BCT. This article provides an initial review of the changes in survey and monitoring the guidance brings, and comments on the implications of these for developers.
Natural England recently announced the formation of a Bat Expert Panel which is comprised of 10 nationally recognised experts from the academic, commercial and NGO and SNCO sectors. Members of the panel have been selected for their strong track record in bat conservation. BSG Ecology is delighted that Dr Peter Shepherd has been one of the experts invited to be a member of the panel.  
BSG Ecology’s innovative use of thermal imaging to help better understand how bats are using Blenheim Palace's Grand Bridge has attracted the attention of the local media.  The article Lives of Blenheim Palace bats are revealed in new project published by the Oxford Press describes how the survey work has helped to identify where the bats are roosting, which is important as a multi-million-pound restoration project is proposed for the bridge.
A recent project at Houghton on the Hill, Leicestershire, provides a good example of how the Bat Low Impact Class Licence process can be applied to ensure a project proceeds to time and budget (despite unforeseen circumstances), while also acting to conserve bats.
BSG Ecology is leading the way in the effective use of thermal imagery as an essential tool in the delivery of a complete ecological consultancy service. We own several high-specification TI cameras and our staff are professionally trained in their use. This includes complex post-processing of radiometric data which reveals more meaningful information than simple visual interpretation.
BSG Ecology has recently been successful in securing a Bat Mitigation Licence for urgent roofing works by utilising one of Natural England’s four new European Protected Species (EPS) licensing policies. This allowed works to progress at least seven months sooner than would otherwise have been the case and meant that significant project cost savings could be made. BSG Ecology understand, from liaison with Natural England, that this was only the second case relating to bats to be considered under the new licencing policies, since their introduction in December 2016.
BSG Ecology are currently working on several projects in Devon that involve the use of thermal imaging cameras to monitor greater horseshoe bats Rhinolophus ferrumequinum.  During a free evening one of our ecologists, Helen Simmons, took the opportunity to visit Berry Head National Nature Reserve & SSSI and film greater horseshoe bats emerging from a known roost.  The site is managed by the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust where she was joined by the Trust's Countryside Officer, Noel Hughes, who monitors them on a regular basis .