Bat Scoping Survey for Planning Applications

When embarking on construction or development projects, it is vital to assess their potential impacts on nearby wildlife and biodiversity. Despite their ecological importance, bats face numerous threats and are highly vulnerable to changes in their habitats.

Determining bat populations and their behaviours is crucial for effective conservation endeavours. One approach used to gather data on bat populations and behaviours is the bat scoping survey.

These surveys should occur during the planning application phase and will often be requested by a local planning authority if a development could potentially affect bats in the area. Hence, developers undertaking planning activities that might impact bats or their habitats are obligated to demonstrate consideration for them by engaging a licensed bat ecologist to conduct a bat scoping survey.

What is a bat scoping survey?

A bat scoping survey for development is a preliminary assessment conducted to determine the presence and potential impacts of bats on a proposed development site. This survey aims to identify any features or signs indicating the presence of bats, such as roosts, flight paths, or feeding areas. It serves as an initial step in assessing the need for further detailed surveys and potential mitigation measures to minimise impacts on bat populations.

The primary objectives of a bat scoping survey for development include:

  1. Identifying Potential Roost Sites: Surveyors search for evidence of roosting bats in buildings, trees, or other structures within the project area. Evidence may include bat droppings and insect remains.
  2. Assessing Bat Activity: If evidence of bats is found, surveyors use specialised equipment such as bat detectors to record bat activity, including foraging, commuting, or roosting behaviour. This helps in understanding the extent of bat presence and their habitat use patterns.
  3. Mapping Flight Paths: Observations of bat flight paths provide insights into important commuting routes and feeding areas. Understanding these movements helps in determining potential impacts of the development on bat populations.
  4. Evaluating Habitat Quality: Surveyors assess the quality of habitats present within the development site and surrounding areas, considering factors such as availability of suitable roosting sites, access to water sources, and abundance of insect prey.
  5. Identifying Legal Obligations: In the UK, developers are legally required to conduct full bat surveys as part of the planning permission process if there is a possibility of impacting bat populations or their habitats. A bat scoping survey helps in determining the necessity of further surveys and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Following a bat scoping survey, a bat survey report will be created by the bat ecologist. This report may suggest that further bat surveys, such as a bat activity survey or a bat emergence survey, may be required for further data.

What is the best time to carry out a bat scoping survey?

The best time to carry out a bat scoping survey is typically during the summer months when it is warmer and bats are more active. In the UK, this usually means from late spring to early autumn (roughly between May to September). During this period, bats are more likely to be actively foraging, commuting, and using roosts, making it easier to detect their presence.

Before planning a bat scoping survey in the UK, it is advisable to consult with bat ecologists for guidance on the best timing based on the project location and the bat species of interest.

Why are bat scoping surveys required?

Bats are listed as a European protected species. Therefore, conducting bat scoping surveys ensures compliance with environmental laws and permits developers to navigate potential legal challenges associated with impacting bat habitats.

Due to their ecological importance, bats are legally protected under UK and European legislation, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. It is an offence to kill, injure, capture, or intentionally disturb bats in their natural habitats. It is also illegal to damage, destroy or obstruct access to bat roosts.

Therefore, if it is found that bats are present on a site, developers are legally required to carry out bat mitigation and compensation measures before any development work can begin. These measures may include the creation of bat boxes or artificial roosts. More information about survey guidelines and bat mitigation measures can be found on the Bat Conservation Trust website.

How can Collington Winter assist?

Collington Winter Environmental are a team of ecological consultants with experience undertaking bat scoping surveys on all types of development projects. Our Ecology Director, Olivia Collington, holds a Natural England Bat licence and has worked with protected species across the UK.

If it is determined that your proposed development may affect bats, our team can provide bat mitigation measures to ensure that your project meets legal requirements. We understand the importance of ecosystem services, natural resources, and natural capital, and we provide practical, realistic solutions to developers in all fields.

Please contact us ( for more information on our mitigation plans and survey work for protected species, such as bat surveys and great crested newt surveys. We also provide ecological appraisal and assessment services.

Our Director Jane Winter also provides landscape architecture services.

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