As Scotland's leading bat specialists, we are regularly asked to help people who have found themselves in difficulties with planning or licensing.
Here are ten things you can do to help head off any problems.
- Don't wait for planners to request a bat survey. Many LPAs no longer have in-house ecologists, so requests for surveys are often late or overlook seasonal limitations, delaying planning consent.
- Seek early advice from a bat ecologist. A bat specialist can advise whether the LPA is likely to require a survey and can help project planning by advising on possible outcomes.
- Beware of bat survey deadlines. Stage 2 (emergence & return) bat surveys should be done between 1 May and 30 September (with at least one visit prior to 30 August). Stage 1 surveys (PRAs) can be done at any time of year, but are not always sufficient to meet planning/licensing needs.
- Book early for May surveys. Specialist ecologists are always busy in May, so book your survey slots as early as possible.
- Always use a bat specialist. Generalists may do bat surveys, but don't always have the licenses or experience to see the job to completion.
- Select an ecologist with local knowledge. How bats roost in buildings varies, depending on the local bat species and the vernacular architecture and so does the approach taken by each local planning authority.
- Check your ecologist has a personal NatureScot bat license. Ecologists without the right license are unlikely to be able to provide the level of service you need.
- Ask if your ecologist holds a BLIMP license. Bat Low Impact (BLIMP) license-holders can streamline many licensing situations for you, saving time and money.
- Don't rely on professional memberships. Sadly, in professional ecology these do not guarantee an ecologist has the specific skill or experience you need.
- Ensure you ecologist knows what you're proposing to do. This ensures the report can address any potential impacts to the satisfaction of the local planning authority and the licensing body (NatureScot in Scotland).