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Bats, heritage and a vent


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I'm venting...

 

Finally had the official letter from the council after pre app who will support our application, although the other letter from the Canal and River Trust (CRT) whilst not saying they won't support it contradicts some of the points the council have made, e.g

 Council liked steel effect, CRT weren't keen. I mean who trump's who?? CRT or the council if one likes it and the other doesn't.... It feels like we need to please both but they haven't different ideas!

 

Two main points are a heritage assessment to assess the impact of the build on the heritage. We aren't in a conservation area but to access the property you drive over a canal bridge. We are one of three properties over the bridge, us, an empty lock keepers cottage and a farm. Apparently they are concerned about vehicles using the bridge as it has a 10 tonne limit. The irony is that the farm have tractors, and go over with bailers, harvesting equipment, have feed and fertilizer deliveries, muckspreaders etc so I'm damn sure the limit has been breached frequently so if they needed to assess it then surely they'd need to look at what others are doing too, it would certainly put the farm out of business if the limit was enforced, not to mention when the property we are in got permission in 1970s it was approved then, probably before CRT were even in situ!

 

Exactly how long does it take to do a bat survey?

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Planners are the ones that decide. CRT can only express an opinion but unless they have an objection that is a valid reason why planning law should not allow it, then the planners can choose to ignore it.

 

The bridge is a highways issue. Expect a planning condition that no vehicle over the weight limit can use it. That may impact on things like concrete delivery where they will have to use a smaller vehicle, or take it over the bridge in small loads e.g in a dumper.

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Just now, ProDave said:

Planners are the ones that decide. CRT can only express an opinion but unless they have an objection that is a valid reason why planning law should not allow it, then the planners can choose to ignore it.

 

The bridge is a highways issue. Expect a planning condition that no vehicle over the weight limit can use it. That may impact on things like concrete delivery where they will have to use a smaller vehicle, or take it over the bridge in small loads e.g in a dumper.

 

See that's what I'm thinking that there will be a condition of weight limits etc, BUT the farm can use it frequently and with vehicles I estimate are almost double the 10 tonne limit, (tractor, sileage trailer)... The neighbours apparantlt raised the issue of the farm going over the bridge at speed, churning up the grass edging and the bridge and lane has potholes in it from the farm vehicles - CRT would not act on it. It won't be a highway issue I would have thought as it is a bridleway technically...

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I think our hope of starting the renovations next summer has just disappeared then!

 

This is the info from the council;

 

 

Before a consultant is contacted to assess the building for bat potential, the applicant may like to provide additional information, i.e. internal and external photographs of the building, which we will take into consideration before determining whether any surveys are needed.

 

If a bat survey is required, it should be carried out as follows:

This application site meets the trigger point for requiring a bat survey since it involves modification, conversion, demolition or removal of buildings and structures (especially roof voids) involving the following: all agricultural buildings (e.g. farmhouses and barns) particularly of traditional brick or stone construction and/or with exposed wooden beams greater than 20cm thick.

The bat survey should be carried out as follows:

 

A Preliminary Roost Assessment including a thorough internal and external inspection of the building and an assessment of the potential for bat roosts to be present. Recommendations should be made regarding the need for additional surveys (see below) and/or precautionary methods of working. During the Preliminary Roost Assessment the ecologist should also record any evidence of nesting wild birds.

 

A Presence/Absence Survey should be carried out in all cases where the Preliminary Roost Assessment finds evidence of bats, potential for bats or where a complete and thorough inspection cannot be carried out. The presence/absence survey will involve dusk emergence and/or pre-dawn re-entry surveys to aid identification of the species of bats present and estimation of the numbers of individuals. The presence/absence survey should follow the guidance on survey effort and frequency in the Bat Conservation Trust’s Good Practice Guidelines (3rd edition, 2016) and will usually comprise 2/3 emergence and/or pre-dawn re-entry surveys* between May and September (optimum period May to August). The Presence/Absence Survey will allow the surveyor to consider the need for mitigation, enhancements and compensation, to assess the likelihood of an offence being committed and to make a decision as to the need for a European Protected Species Mitigation Licence from Natural England

*Note – 2 surveys carried out within the same 24 hour period constitute one survey.

 

A Roost Characterisation Survey should be carried out in cases where an offence is considered likely to occur, where mitigation is required and where a European Protected Species Mitigation Licence from Natural England will be required. The Roost Characterisation Survey is intended to establish number of bats in the colony, access points used, temperature and humidity regime in the roost, aspect and orientation of the roost, size and perching points, lighting and a surrounding habitat assessment.

 

For any planning application triggering the need for a bat survey, the following documents should be submitted to allow determination of the application:
1.    A Preliminary Roost Assessment and any further surveys recommended by the licensed ecologist (e.g. Presence/Absence Survey and Roost Characterisation Survey).
2.    A site plan showing any mitigation and enhancements being offered for bats (e.g. bat box locations, bat loft locations with measurements and internal details)
3.    A lighting plan showing location and specification for any proposed lights on the site. The lighting plan should reflect the Bat Conservation Trust’s Bats and Lighting in the U.K. guidance.

All bat surveys should be carried out by an experienced, licensed ecologist and in accordance with the Good Practice Guidelines. Mitigation should be designed in line with Natural England’s Bat Mitigation Guidelines. 

Any deviation from the methods, level or timing of surveys set out in the Good Practice Guidelines should be accompanied by a reasoned evidence statement from the licensed ecologist carrying out the survey clarifying how the sub-optimal survey is ecologically valid.

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29 minutes ago, canalsiderenovation said:

Oh god, go on please tell?

 

Quick answer, about a year. But it varies. Best way to find out what really happens is to do some leg work. 

 

Look online and read some bat ecology reports prepared for your LPA. Look at the dates of the survey, the dates they were submitted  and the dates of the decisions. That should give you a rough local lead time.

Next, network like mad in your local area. Find out who NOT to employ as your ecologist. Take a local estate agent out for dinner and pay the bill. Believe nobody until at least three people tell you the same story. The local bat group (of worthies) will tell you too much. Don't tell them you are applying for PP.   

 

Next, find an excellent ecologist. One with an eye for detail (Probably a woman - - -  yes yes I know, but stuff it, I don't care). Find out how much she knows about the local gossip.... what's the LPA's ecologist like - a bastard? lazy? crisp? efficient? slow? Ask around about the ecologist - you are looking for sensible price and reasonable service. And an eye for detail. And one that can communicate efficiently.

Avoid one that moans about being up all night doing surveys and that consequently they are too tired to see to detail and bother.

 

I have a strong feeling you've missed this year's 'bat-cycle . Use the enforced wait to plan.

Good luck

Ian

 

I forgot to add , in my direct experience,  common local practice is to kill any interfering wildlife, and then apply for PP.  Me, ..... bitter? No. Wiser.

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Trouble is, as @recoveringacademic already knows, a lot of this wildlife is not endangered but still treated like they are, developers and builders in the know rid themselves of any nesting areas or actual wildlife before applying for planning. I had to build three bat roosts in my garage roof but we are surrounded my woodland with loads of bats in anyway!!!!

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8 minutes ago, joe90 said:

Trouble is, as @recoveringacademic already knows, a lot of this wildlife is not endangered but still treated like they are, developers and builders in the know rid themselves of any nesting areas or actual wildlife before applying for planning. I had to build three bat roosts in my garage roof but we are surrounded my woodland with loads of bats in anyway!!!!

 

Hmm, well just waiting to see what architects say. I suspect first step is the pleliminary bat survey. When my dad removed the wasps nest from the loft a few months ago he didn't see it smell any indication of bats, but then he's not a specialist and I guess any little sight or them and it will be the full survey.

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2 hours ago, vivienz said:

Can you get up into the roof space or find some way if looking in there? At least if there are bats hibernating in there you will be prepared for what's to come.

 

Tomorrow, I'm going into the loft - it's easily accessible as it's a bungalow, we have two loft hatches one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom. Since we bought it at Easter its has tradesmen in there, me and my dad looking for the TV aerial cable as well as a professional guy rooting around and us emptying stuff that has been left in, in addition to the wasp incident so I can't help but think we would have noticed or at least disturbed them if there was any. 

 

I'll see what I can see (and smell) tomorrow - if anything.

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I looked in our loft (timber and asbestos bungalow to be demolished ready for our build) and could not find anything but they were under the corrugated roofing above the sarking. Trust me you don’t want any bats found on your site!! .

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It's an expensive one.

We had no bats in residence but the roif space of the old bungalow we demolished was used as an occasional summer roost. We had to have 2 bat surveys and dismantle the roof by hand, supervised by an licensed ecologist. All of that came to about 3k by the time we were done and none of it was of any benefit to the bats.

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1 hour ago, canalsiderenovation said:

 

Ouch, sounds like it's a sore subject...

 

 

Yep, for many. FOrtunately on the main planning application I have done in the last few years, the only potential bat roost was an old oak tree in a hedgerow.

 

I am very critical of a system which makes the organisation which is the main adviser to Local Authorities and Natural England ... and a massive cotnributor to policy ... the same organisation which gets its revenue from training Batmen. THey even run the Bat Helpline referred to on the Natural England website FFS.

 

HEre for example is a course outline stating that the method statement in a British Standard was "taken directly from this course". https://www.bats.org.uk/our-work/training-and-conferences/training-for-arborists-tree-surgeons/bats-and-arboriculture-secondary-roost-surveys-for-arborists

 

TO me that is a poisonous nest of  conflicts of interest and the whole thing needs root and branch reform.

 

In the meantime the setup Is imo inimical to the protection of bats.

 

THis account is amusing but sobering:

https://www.countrylife.co.uk/country-campaigns/beware-the-bat-mafia-8911

 

Ferdinand

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I left the light on all winter and I hoovered up all suspect dropping in the loft before the bat person came to do the initial inspection, she found nothing, but did the emergence survey ‘just in case’. Although we’re surrounded by woodland, thankfully none were roosting in the bungalow roof space. If nothings found you could be starting work next summer!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally today, Boxing Day task, I ventured up the two lofts. We have one in the bedroom and one in the kitchen as due to the odd layout of the bungalow (basically two bungalows seperayed by a flat roof in between).

 

The good news is that whoever installed newish loft insulation left the paperwork up there from a couple of years ago so there is lots of insulation, so everything was definitely disturbed not too long ago. Lots of spiderwebs and a random dead blue tit in the first bungalow loft, but can't for the life of me see how it got in (removed it), no obvious gaps but we did see birds going near the guttering, fascias and soffits in summer but no sign of anything in the loft. Lots of white boxes with 'rodent killer's on them situated all in both lofts (counted more than 10 in both so mice or rats perhaps, but no sign of bats). 

 

Second loft has chimney in it, again lots of spiderwebs which seem to have caught an abundance of wasps, so perhaps a wasps nest somewhere which explains why we had so many in summer throughout the house, though can't see any actual wasps nests or birds nests. 

 

We just have an old flat roof sectional garage and makeshift building to worry about that will be demolished, but the bungalow itself certainly has no obvious signs of bats in it, but I guess they could still be 'around'. Architects know someone who normally does their surveys so I'm just researching into who they mentioned. There is a local guy literally walking distance away who had permission passed for a swimming pool and gym building (who had the same architects), so I'm guessing he would have had to have a bat survey too, and let's face it a swimming pool is not exactly conservation friendly!

 

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Phew, I am relieved for you, but, they may still be there!!!, our bats were found by them listening to the tin roof (galvanised corrugated roof) and sounds were heard that indicated bats were between the tin roof and sarking boards which we could not see onto without removing the tin roof. I really hope you have none.

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