This was the cutest image I could find of a brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus); aren’t those ears hilarious? Admittedly they’re not the most beguiling of creatures, but I wanted to show you what we would appear to have roosting in our loft space.
We discovered that we might have uninvited house guests late last year after the planning department requested that we carry out an initial bat survey before they would process our planning application. Limited evidence was found at that stage and we duly submitted our plans along with the survey results and awaited their response.
The standard eight weeks passed by only for us to discover on the decision date that the council had refused our plans. We were disappointed obviously, especially as neither our architect nor us had been given any indication that there might be issues with the application. However, looking on the positive side, the council appear to have no theoretical issue with the changes that we’re proposing to make, they simply want us to conduct further bat surveys over the breeding season in order to understand the impact that our building works might have on this protected species, and to review our proposed mitigation measures.
So, we kicked off a series of surveys last night with a visit from a licensed ecologist who had a good poke around in our loft and discovered that there has perhaps been more historical activity (think hundreds of droppings) than we were initially led to believe. There are no bats there at present though which suggests they may be using our loft as a summer roost and have yet to return.
Bat Box & Access Tile
Now that we’ve established that the bats may well be seasonal residents, the ecologist will return for a series of dawn vigils aimed at ascertaining numbers and entry points so that we can put a plan of action together; this will almost certainly require us to get a licence to carry out the works and will probably necessitate an ecologist to be on site when roofing tiles and hanging tiles on the side of the house are removed. It might also involve using special access tiles on the roof, zoning off an area in the loft as a dedicated roost, putting up bat boxes in the garden or using special roofing membrane to avoid them becoming trapped.
All in all a somewhat unexpected twist in our planning process that we naively failed to anticipate. Yes it’s a hassle, causing both delays and extra expense, but in spite of all that we’re actually quite intrigued by these odd-looking little creatures that hang about in the rafters, and will obviously do our bit to protect their little corner of our home.