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We undertake bat surveys to assist with planning applications or other works which may impact bats such as the renovation, conversion or demolition of buildings (particularly old), internal or external roof works or installing lighting typically require survey.

Your project may require a survey to obtain planning permission. Works including renovation, conversion or demolition of buildings (particularly old), internal or external roof works or installing lighting typically require survey. Removal of suitable foraging and roosting habitat such as mature trees and hedgerows will also likely require survey(s).

Although there is some information available regarding how to undertake surveys, bat survey(s) must be undertaken by a suitability trained ecologist to satisfy any licence requirements. Though it is helpful to be able to spot signs early in the project.

Our Bat Survey services include:

  • Preliminary Roost Assessments of Buildings & Trees (Can be completed year-round)
  • Bat Activity Surveys of Buildings, trees and structures (Between April & September under suitable weather conditions);
  • Aerial Inspections of trees (year-round);
  • Advising on mitigation;
  • Species Protection Plans;
  • Licence Application; and
  • Ecological Watching Briefs.

Why should we care about bats?

Bats are the only true flying mammal. There are approximately 1,300 species of bat worldwide providing ecosystem services such as pollinating plants and controlling agricultural pests to helping to prevent disease. They have also captured the human imagination for centuries and often associated with Halloween.

In the UK, we have 17 breeding species, all which feed on insects including the dreaded midge.

Threats facing UK bats comprise development work that impacts roosts, loss of habitat and fragmentation of commuting routes by roads. Wind turbines and lighting are potential threats if in proximity to suitable habitat or roosts.

At home cat attacks, flypaper and some chemical treatments of building materials can also result in injury or death.


All bats in the UK hold the highest level of protection, classified as European Protected species and this protection extends to their roosts. Despite the UK exit from the EU, there is no change to the protection. Below is a general summary of offences however you should check guidance for your specific country. Committing offences toward bats may result in imprisonment or unlimited fine. It is illegal to deliberately or recklessly:

  • capture, injure or kill bats;
  • damage or destroy a breeding or resting place (regardless of roost size);
  • obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places;
  • possess, sell, control or transport live or dead bats, or parts of them;
  • intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat while it’s in a structure or place of shelter or protection.

The Stages of Bat Survey

Our methodology follows the latest best practice guidance from CIEEM and the Bat Conservation Trust. Bat surveys usually involve three stages:

  1. A Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA).
  2. Activity surveys (buildings and trees) or aerial inspection (trees only).
  3. Licence application and species protection plan (if bats are found).

A PRA can be undertaken at any time of the year and is the first stage of survey. The ecologist externally and internally inspects buildings, searching for presence or field signs of bats, but we also look for features which may provide suitable roosting habitat. During this survey we may require access to roof spaces. Depending on evidence and features, the structure is rated from negligible to high potential and may require activity surveys to provide further information. The aim of activity surveys is either to confirm absence of bats or characterize roost types and species if bats are present.

Activity surveys are the second stage of survey and undertaken during the active bat season from May to September. The surveys are carried out overnight; ecologist(s) are positioned outside the structure to await bats either emerging (dusk) or returning to their roost (dawn). These surveys can be undertaken on buildings and trees. No internal access to buildings is required during these surveys. The results allow the ecologist to confirm presence or absence, or type of roost. Knowing the species and roost type is important for informing a licence application, mitigation and (in some cases) compensation for a species protection plan.

Elevated or aerial inspections of trees (not buildings) can be completed instead of an activity survey. This is when the ecologist ascends a tree to thoroughly inspect features which cannot be viewed in full of the ground. The tree however must be safe to ascend, or if features cannot be fully examined then activity survey(s) may be required.

Licensing and Species Protection Plan

In addition to a bat licence application, a species protection plan is required. The plan outlines the results of the surveys with recommendations and methods on how the project will protect bats and compensate for any roost(s) to be lost. Our experienced ecologists can prepare licence applications and species protection plans that meet legal requirements on your behalf. We can also provide a licensed ecologist to oversee the vulnerable stage of the work.

When to start bat surveys?

As activity surveys are seasonal, they are often in high demand. Commencing surveys late in the season may not be sufficient to satisfy licence if requirements. It is best to think about bats in the early stages of planning. As a preliminary roost assessment can be undertaken at any time of the year, requesting outside of the active season will allow you to get ahead for the following season. If you are late in the season then we may still be able to offer assistance.

Ecological Surveys - Related Services

To find out more about how Mabbett can work with you, please get in touch.

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