A New Stream-Lined Approach to Bats and Development

02 Jul 2015

A new type of bat licence was launched by Natural England in April 2015. The new Bat Low Impact Class Licence (BLICL) aims to reduce the administrative burden on development in certain situations by speeding up and streamlining the application process.

After participating in the 2013/2014 trial of this licence and attending two days of workshops lead by Natural England in April 2015, RPS Ecologist Dr. Stephanie Murphy is now a registered consultant for BLICL, one of only around 60 in the country.

This new licence type will permit works that have an impact on bat roosts of low conservation significance occupied by a small number of common species without the need for a traditional licence from Natural England. The BLICL allows faster processing of applications and will have the following additional advantages:

  • Reduced burden on clients, especially delays and associated costs;
  • Robust legal approach which balances needs of the business with those of the environment; and
  • A more proportional approach with respect to the conservation status of the species.

Once surveys have been completed it is expected that processing of the licence by Natural England will take 10 working days (instead of the 30+ currently required), meaning the licence can be written, applied for and granted in less than four weeks. The licence still requires full surveys to be carried out to determine the species and type of roost present. Whilst a pragmatic approach can be taken, the overall outcome for licences that are granted will be no detriment to the species so suitable mitigation etc. will still be required. However, this faster and more efficient system should have a positive outcome for conservation by reducing negative associations of having bats on site while also streamlining the process to ensure development can progress in an efficient manner.

This is a welcome move away from time-consuming and costly individual licences previously required for all bat roosts, regardless of conservation status and RPS hope to be able to make use of this innovative new licence for our clients and their projects in the current survey season.

RPS' Bat Ecology team is based at offices across the UK, and offers legal advice as well as undertaking surveys such as tree and building inspections and helping to ensure bat protection measures are complied with – an issue of great importance to Defra, Natural England, other conservation groups and local authorities. This includes such services as ecological assessments, observation surveys, radio-tracking, infra-red surveys, remote monitoring with thermal-imaging and design and installation of mitigation measures such as bat bridges.

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