Can You Demolish a Building With Bats Inside?
With so many logistics to bear in mind when planning a demolition project, you may not have considered the possibility that your property is inhabited by bats. As nocturnal creatures, bats seek out refuge in dark, secluded areas, meaning that the nooks and crannies of your building may have unwittingly become home to these creatures.
But just what does this mean for your demolition plans? And how can you tell if bats are present at your property? The team at Hill Demolition is here to answer all your questions.
What are the signs of bats?
If you suspect that your property may be home to a group of bats, there are a number of signs that you should keep an eye out for:
Droppings: Probably the most obvious sign of a bat infestation is droppings, otherwise known as guano. These long black pellets will quickly accumulate, and if you don’t notice them then you’ll surely smell them, as guano releases a strong, ammonia-like stench.
Stains: Bats secrete an oily substance, so if you notice any greasy streaks by suspected entry points then you should take this as a sign of their presence.
Sightings: Bats are nocturnal, so if you spot any flying around near your area at night then they may have found a home nearby, namely inside your property.
Sounds: If you hear scratching or the sound of wings flapping, this indicates that bats are present. Furthermore, bats hunt and communicate using echolocation, meaning you may hear some odd chirping sounds if bats are present.
Are bats legally protected in the UK?
Yes, all 17 species of bats are legally protected within the UK due to their declining population. Whilst many people may view bats as a nuisance, they have significant ecological importance and actually help to control the insect population. Bats also act as an ‘indicator species’, meaning any fluctuation in their population signals changes in biodiversity.
The main legislation that protects bats is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Species and Habitations Regulations 2017, stating that it is an offence to recklessly or intentionally:
- Kill, injure, disturb or capture bats
- Damage or demolish their breeding and resting sites, even if no bats are present at the time
- Disturb bats whilst they occupy a structure
- Block access to a place of shelter or protection
Will bats affect my demolition plans?
Yes, if your property is found to have bats inside then your demolition plans will likely be disrupted. As bats are a protected species, this means that they cannot be removed by force.
The first step you should take is to undergo a bat survey, which will determine the population and species present in the building. If bats are identified, you will need to obtain a European Protected Species Mitigation (EPSM) licence, which allows for the safe relocation of bats and their roosts at appropriate times of the year. This must be carried out by a trained professional who is licensed by Natural England, or you could be subject to severe penalties.
To ensure your demolition can still go ahead, it’s important to consult with a number of experts, including an ecologist, the Bat Conservation Trust and an experienced demolition expert, like Hill Demolition.
What is a bat survey?
Before demolishing any building, you may be required to carry out a bat survey if there is a ‘reasonable likelihood’ that bats are inhabiting your building. This survey will establish the number of bats, locate access points and determine which species are present, before assessing just how and when bats are using your property. The information gathered from bat surveys helps to assess the potential impact of demolition and recommends appropriate measures that can be taken to reduce disturbance. By conducting a thorough bat survey, you can ensure that you’re complying with all your legal obligations.
If you require demolition services for your property in London, Hertfordshire, Essex or beyond, look no further than Hill Demolition. With over 50 years of experience, we’ve seen it all before and worked on all manner of sites, including projects with bats present. To consult our experts or request additional information, simply contact us today.