Can I Still Get a Loft Conversion If There are Bats?

March 17, 2015 11:45 am

bat in loftconversionFinding bats in your loft space can cause a lot of delays and may make your loft conversion more expensive, but there are only a few situations where you would need to cancel your loft conversion completely.

Bats are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which means that you can’t:

  • Kill, injure, or take a bat
  • Own or control a live or dead bat, or anything derived from a bat
  • Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy, or obstruct access to any area used as shelter or protection by a bat (ie. build a loft conversion where they roost)
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat when it’s occupying a structure or place

In some cases, it’s not immediately obvious that you have bats so if you suspect that you might, it’s best to commission a bat survey before applying for planning permission. If your loft conversion is considered a threat to the natural habitat or even a disturbance to a bat population, you will need to let the planning officer know how you’re planning to conserve the population or rehome them. In the vast majority of cases, you should be able to find a way to still build your conversion without harming the wildlife.

Getting a Bat Survey

It’s essential that only a fully trained and licensed person conducts the survey – if you try to investigate yourself, you would be committing an offense by disturbing the bats. It’s best to commission a survey if:

  • You hear chattering around dusk
  • You see them around your house or leaving your loft
  • There are droppings in your loft space (they look similar to mouse/rat droppings)

If You Find Bats, There is a Solution

Let them Stay

Bats aren’t like rats and mice – they won’t gnaw through wires or build nests in your house. While the thought isn’t very pleasant, their droppings aren’t actually a health hazard either. They’ll reduce the number of insects in your home. You can find out more about living with bats here:

Some people manage the issue by building a bat room, where the bat can still roost in peace without being disturbed (or disturbing their human housemates).

Rehome Them

Your ecologist can advise on whether it’s possible to rehome the bats in your loft. You’ll need a mitigation licence to explain how you’re going to reduce harm to bats and present the proposal with your planning permission application.

To get a migitation licence, you’ll need to prove that:

  • The work is for a particular purpose
  • There’s no alternative that will cause less harm to the bats
  • The work won’t harm the long term conservation status of the species (ie. you’ll need to build a new habitat for them to live in)



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