Bat roosts are legally protected against disturbance, destruction or blocked access (whether occupied at the time or not). Fines of up to £5,000 per individual bat are possible, but does that really happen?
In a word, yes. As the importance of biodiversity keeps increasing the courts are handing down greater fines to developers who choose to destroy bat roosts, rather than commissioning proper surveys and going through the licensing process.
• In 2020 Bellway Homes were fined £600,000 for destroying a Soprano pipistrelle roost in Woolwich.
• In 2019 a Dorset man had to pay a fine and costs totalling over £7,000 for demolishing a logstore he knew to contain a Natterer’s Bat roost.
• A Kent housebuilder was fined and ordered to pay costs totalling over £20,000 in 2016 for demolishing a building used as a roost by several bat species.
Bats often roost in unexpected or surprising places and not being aware of their presence is not a defence – the law expects you to make efforts to find out by commissioning a bat survey and following the advice of a professional bat ecologist.