Ecologists at MSC are working with clients to ensure that construction schedules are not disrupted by bats.

Under guidance from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, the business is carrying out essential protected species surveys to support clients, adhering to strict safety and social distancing advice.

The business’ Environment team is also warning developers that they could face more than delays if they disregard the presence of bats in the vicinity of their sites.

Holly Smith, Director, said that with all species of bat in the UK being legally protected construction schedules could suffer lengthy setbacks if developers did not commission the necessary surveys to determine their presence within the correct survey window.

“Many bats use buildings, trees and other structures for roosting, and as their roosts are protected from disturbance and destruction, even if a bat is not present within it, anyone planning building, refurbishment or demolition work, maintenance works, tree felling or other arboricultural works, must take the potential presence of bat roosts into account before it is undertaken to avoid falling foul of the law (specifically the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended).

 “There are hefty penalties for those who don’t comply – six months’ imprisonment and/or unlimited fines can be imposed.

“In order to avoid committing an offence, surveys should be planned in advance of any works that could affect bats or their roosts – and these have to follow strict, industry standard guidance which dictate when and how many bat surveys are required,” she explained.

The core window for summer surveys runs for the next three months.

Holly said that should bat habitation be recorded, the team is able to work with clients to find solutions, including planning works while bats are absent from the roost and obtaining a European Protected Species Mitigation Licence (EPSML) or under the Low Impact Class Licence (LiCL) from Natural England to get authorisation to conduct work and relocate the bats to new roost sites.