Protecting bats and their roosts during tree safety works
Guidelines by Sue Hooton, Senior Ecologist, Essex County Council. Survey license for protected species including bats. Named ecologist on bat mitigation license.
- If a tree has a confirmed bat or roost presence and intended arboricultural operations have the potential to cause a direct disturbance to bats or destroy them or their roosts, work can only proceed under a license issued by Natural England. Such a license will only be issued if the intended arboricultural operations are in the overriding public interest e.g. preserving public health & safety.
- Wherever possible, tree safety work should be carried out between March and April or late August and early October, to avoid sensitive times for bats when they are breeding or hibernating.
- Prior to felling or removing timber with bat potential, workers should conduct a visual inspection for signs of bats. Depending on the level of bat potential, and operations will directly disturb, remove or destroy timber with bat potential, they should use mitigation measures as advised by an experienced and preferably licensed individual. If bats or roosts are discovered, prior to or during operations, seek advice for a confirmed bat or roost presence.
- Emergency works should be conducted in a sensitive manner, and where reasonably practicable, timber with bat potential should not be directly sawn through. If such timber, it should be left at the base of the tree for at least 48 hours to allow bats the opportunity to fly away. Where it is impractical to lower potential bat roosts, piles of brash or logs can be used to soften the impact of them hitting the ground.
- If anyone finds a bat during tree safety works and they need to be moved into care for their own safety, the task should ideally be conducted by an individual holding a Natural England bat license. Where this isn’t possible, they should be placed in a box with air holes and kept in a safe & quiet location until they can be passed into the care of such an individual. Suffolk Bat Rescue is run by volunteers and can be contacted via their Facebook page.