Bat Mitigation Licences

This section provides guidance for building owners, managers and their advisers about when and how to apply for a bat mitigation licence, and about ensuring compliance with the licence.

In practice, to comply with the law, building works must be:

  • organised so as to avoid committing offences (using a non-licensed Method Statement), or
  • carried out under a bat mitigation licence.

Both ways must be overseen by a bat specialist with the appropriate licence/s from Natural England.

Criteria for issuing licences

Licences are issued where:

  • There is 'overriding public interest’
  • There is no satisfactory alternative way of carrying out the works that would avoid offences
  • The works will not adversely affect the favourable conservation status of the species concerned.

If your operations require planning permission, the local planning authority has to ensure that the presence of protected species has been taken into account when the planning application is determined.

For more information see the standing advice for local planning authorities.

Obtaining a licence to proceed may take over two months, and will require a bat survey report, therefore you should always arrange the bat survey at the very start of planning building works.

If you do not carry out a survey and bats are discovered in the course of the works, the works must be halted until a suitable scheme of work has been agreed or you may face prosecution.

If no licence is needed, it remains your responsibility to comply with the law.

Applying for a bat mitigation licence

Natural England’s web page Bats: apply for a mitigation licence explains how to apply for a licence and any relevant fees. Forms and templates for the licence application, method statement and reasoned statement are provided. There are no fees for a licence related to the conservation of a historic property.

It is advisable to retain the services of the bat specialist who applied for the licence throughout the works to help ensure compliance and carry out monitoring.

Compliance with the licence

Once the licence has been approved and all other consents are in place, you will be able to begin the building work subject to any timing restrictions stated in the licence Method Statement.

You must, of course, ensure that you do meet the terms of the licence; during the works, keeping to the conditions of the licence is the legal responsibility of the person named on it (usually the developer or owner). Remember to include bats in your site health and safety plan too.

If you have employed a bat specialist consultant, it is advisable to retain their services to oversee any works and to carry out any required monitoring.

You will be asked for (and must give) permission for access to the site by Natural England staff to monitor the works. They have a target of checking licence compliance for a sample of about 10% of licences.

Class licences, and the Bats in Churches class licence

In certain circumstances, it may be possible to cover some works and activities with low impacts for bats under a class licence. This bat ‘low impact’ licence (CL21) allows a bat specialist consultant, trained, assessed and registered with Natural England, to directly manage on-going work with low or temporary impacts on bats or their roosts, providing they have registered the site with Natural England first.

A new class licence for churches is being explored as part of the Bats in Churches project. This class licence allows a single site registration form to be developed for each church (by a trained, assessed and registered bat specialist consultant) rather than submission of a full licence application pack (application form, method statement, work schedule and reasoned statement) for each activity which might affect bats.

The site registration form (SRA) includes information on the church, bat populations, problems, proposed solutions, and a strategy for managing the impact of bats and monitoring the outcomes. Like mitigation licences, a bat survey is needed. The SRA is submitted to Natural England for assessment and registration. Once the site is registered, the registered consultant must submit annual reports against agreed objectives.

The long term success of class licences depends on individuals undertaking good surveys, keeping records, and making good decisions on appropriate mitigation, compensation and monitoring, and gathering and keeping the evidence for the mitigation. Natural England also does compliance checking.