Often, we get enquiries asking what is a Bat Low Impact Class Licence, and how they fit in within a development project? In simple terms, a bat licence is consent which is granted by Natural England (or Natural Resources Wales), that permits activities which would ordinarily be unlawful.
A client approaches us as they want to build a double height extension to an existing property. The daytime Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA) identified a number of suitable roosting features within the building; in and around the area where the extension will be constructed. However, no physical evidence of bats was identified at the time. In this particular instance, the building was assessed as providing a moderate habitat value for bats, in line with the national survey guidelines. As such, two presence/likely-absence surveys were recommended. The first (dusk) survey was undertaken during early June, with the second and final dawn survey undertaken three weeks later. During the initial dusk survey, four soprano pipistrelle bats were recorded emerging from gaps noted between lifted tiles. During the dawn re-entry survey, three soprano pipistrelle bats were recorded returning to the roost just before sunrise.
The structure was recorded as a confirmed day roost, for a maximum number of four individual bats.
What happens next?
The proposed extension will result in the removal of the tiles on this section of roof and inevitably, result in the loss of a bat roost. In order for the works to proceed lawfully, a licence should be obtained which will confirm all the data gathered during the survey efforts and outline the proposed mitigation measures.
In many situations, an application for a full European Protected Species Mitigation Licence (EPSML) is made. For applications submitted to Natural England, this comprises of a full method statement, application form, associated drawings (figures) and a works schedule. Once submitted, Natural England suggest approximately 30-40 working days to process the application and send through the approval. However, when a project meets the criteria of a Bat Low Impact Class Licence (or BLICL as it’s referred to), the delays are dramatically reduced!
With a BLICL, there is no physical licence granted to the client. The consultant (who is one of only a few highly experienced consultants in the country trained and approved by Natural England) holds the licence, and your site is registered against it. Once the application has been submitted to Natural England for a BLICL, approval is granted within 10 working days (often sooner).
The implementation of the BLICL system is a much welcomed streamlined proceed, enabling the consultant to provide a quick and efficient service to the client.
Can every site be registered under this system?
Before being able to registered a site for the BLICL, there are certain criteria which need to be met, to ensure the site is suitable to be registered. First and foremost, this system is only applicable in England and not Wales or Scotland. The criteria states that only sites with a low number of common species can be registered. The licence cannot be used if a maternity roost is present. There can also be no more than three roosts present within a structure. The species currently included within the BLICL are:
- Common pipistrelle
- Soprano pipistrelle
- Brown long-eared
- Natterer’s bat
In summary, the bat low impact licence has a streamlined application process dramatically reducing the extent to which survey information has to be documented, resulting in a significantly faster application facility for clients.
Simon is the senior ecologist at Quantock Ecology and due to his years of experience and knowledge within the bat world, was invited to become a registered consultant by Natural England to implement the low impact or mitigation class licence. Simon has registered many sites across Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Herefordshire, Surrey and a number of other counties across the country. If you’d like to speak with Simon about how protected species might impact on your planning application, get in touch today.