Businesses and the Clyde Bat Group

Bats & Business

Bats and the Law

All bats and their roosts are protected by European wildlife law.  The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) states that it is a criminal offence to deliberately or recklessly:

  • capture, injure or kill a wild bat;
  • harass a wild bat or group of bats;
  • to disturb a wild bat in a roost (any structure or place it uses for shelter or protection);
  • to disturb a wild bat while it is rearing or otherwise caring for its young (this would be a 'maternity' roost);
  • to obstruct access to a bat roost or to otherwise deny the animal use of the roost;
  • to disturb such a wild bat in a manner that is, or in circumstances which are, likely to significantly affect the local distribution or abundance of that species;
  • to disturb a wild bat in a manner that is, or in circumstances which are, likely to impair its ability to survive, breed or reproduce, or rear or otherwise care for its young.

It is also an offence to:

  • damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal (note: this does not need to be deliberate or reckless to constitute an offence);
  • keep, transport, sell or exchange or offer for sale or exchange any wild bat or any part or derivative of one.

To avoid committing an offence, it is imnportant to consult SNH or a licensed bat worker before you do anything that might affect bats or their roosts. For example, this might include:

  • blocking, filling or installing grilles over old mines or tunnels
  • building, alterations or maintenance work
  • getting rid of unwanted bat colonies
  • removing hollow trees
  • re-roofing
  • remedial timber treatments
  • rewiring or plumbing in roofs
  • treatment of wasps, bees or cluster flies

Remember that because bats return to the same places every year, a bat roost is protected even if there are no bats there.

The law allows you to tend disabled bats,kill seriously injured ones and disturb bats in the living area of a house. This means that if you have bats in your house, unless they are in the living area itself, you should consult SNH before taking any action which would disturb the bats or affect their roost. The living area means those parts of the house which are in continual occupation, i.e. it excludes the loft/ attic space unless this area has been converted into bedrooms or other habitable space.

Some of the above activities, including disturbing or any attempt to remove the bats , may be legitimately undertaken under the terms of a licence issued either by SNH of the Scottish Executive, depending on the specific circumstances. Activities such as catching, ringing or photographing bats can be licensed by SNH provided they are for scientific, educational or conservation reasons.

Bats in buildings

It is increasingly common for bats to use buildings for roosting, especially as natural roosting sites in hollow trees and caves have become scarce or disturbed. For a variety of reasons, bats have found buildings to serve as ideal substitutes - although, on occasions, other occupants of the building may not be too keen on this arrangement!

Which parts of buildings to bats favour?

  • it is unusual for bats to stray into the living accommodation of houses but they will frequently exploit other parts of buildings, both internal and external. There are some differences between roosting requirements from species to species but typical roosting sites may include: cavity walls, under eaves, gaps in tiled / slated roofs and attic spaces. Externally they may choose to roost under weather boarding, facia boards and barge boards etc..
  • it is important to note that when dealing with bats in buildings, bats do not make nests or cause structural damage. Also, they tend to only be present in buildings, especially houses, during the summer months. However, bats do frequently return, year after year, to the same summer roost.
  • another point to note is that in addition to bats being protected, the roost sites are also protected by Law, whether the bats are actually present, or not.

Bats and trees

Although some species of bat, the Pipistrelle bats in particular, have taken readily to roosting in buildings, hollow trees are still extremely important as natural roosting sites, especially for noctule bats, which rarely roost anywhere else.

Why have trees been lost?

Trees have been lost due to a number of factors : natural disasters, but particularly due to human intervention, such as felling dangerous trees, making way for new housing developments and construction of new roads etc..

There is generally a correlation between the age of the tree and the bat roosting opportunities it offers: the older the tree the more important it is likely to be. Therefore management of such trees requires special skills and understanding to take account of the likelihood of bats being present. As bats and bat roosting sites are legally protected, initial survey work is required, prior to any work being undertaken, to comply with current legal obligations.

Bat Roost Records

Clyde Bat Group are currently updating our database.  If you require information on bat records, we can supply historical data for a small search fee of £25.00, payable in advance.  Cheques should be made out to Clyde Bat Group.