Loft Conversion Planning Permissions and Bats

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2012

Know the facts about the laws regarding bats in case you happen to find one in your loft. You are prohibited by law to capture, kill, or harm a bat. It’s also illegal to disturb bats (which can include preventing their survival, ability to breed and nurture their young.)  It’s illegal to disturb a roost, even when the bats are not present (free advice for householders who find a bat in their property can be obtained from the Bat Conservation Trusts National Bat Helpline: 0345 1300 228).

Local authorities need to provide for the conservation of biodiversity, and bats are included as a protected species under the European Habitats Directive.

Planning authorities can require bat surveys when determining a development proposal.  This can even be a condition of planning approval.  But you will not need a survey unless there is a ‘reasonable likelihood’ of the presence of bats on your premises.

How do you know if there is a reasonable likelihood of bats on your premises?  Proximity to woodland and water is a significant factor in this decision. Bat surveys are often required for agricultural buildings, especially those with weatherboarding and/or hanging tiles when they are within 200 metres of water or woodland.  You also may need one if the building you are planning to convert is currently empty and close to woodland or water.

Other examples of buildings that require bat surveys include:

  • Detached buildings built prior to 1960 within 200m of woodland or water
  • Any buildings constructed prior to 1914 with gable ends or slate roofs
  • Buildings constructed prior to 1914 that are within 400 metres of woodland or water
  • Any buildings located adjacent to woodland or water

What If I Do Require A Bat Survey?

If you are building a loft conversion in a structure that requires a bat survey, you will first need a preliminary bat survey. Hopefully this preliminary survey will indicate that there is little likelihood of the presence of bats.  If not, a full bat survey will be required.  This would explain how your building scheme will allow for the protection and wellbeing of bats.  For surveys, always used a licensed ecologist who will follow the regulations in ‘Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines’. The Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management Professional Directory online is a good place to find licensed ecologists.

In urban and suburban locations, the presence of bats is becoming increasingly common.  Therefore, it’s good to be aware of the laws and guidelines prior to converting your loft.

For more information on our loft conversion services, contact Loftworld today.