Bat Survey Guidance 2023 Updates

When undertaking construction or development projects, it is essential to consider the potential impact on local wildlife and biodiversity. Bats are a protected species, and they play a vital role in ecosystems and are particularly sensitive to changes in their habitat. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct thorough bat surveys as part of the planning permission process to assess the presence and conservation needs in the project area.

The fourth edition of ‘Bat Surveys for Professional Ecologists: Good Practice Guidelines’ has been recently released by the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT). These guidelines have been meticulously revised, updated, and scrutinised by experts. This bat survey guidance now stands as the foremost and most essential reference guide for professional ecologists engaged in professional bat work for development.

What is included in the recent bat survey guidelines?

The recently released guidelines place an increased importance on the utilisation of Night Vision Aids (NVAs), including infra-red and thermal imaging cameras, for activity surveys. The approach to activity surveys, specifically for assessing the presence or likely absence of bat roosts, has been refined. Now, dusk emergence surveys take precedence, while dawn re-entry surveys are no longer routinely endorsed due to the potential risk of early bat returns leading to oversight.

Furthermore, an adjustment has been made to the recommended minimum time between surveys, extending it from two weeks to three weeks. This modification aims to provide a more comprehensive and representative sample of bat activity during the designated survey period.

Recent research has also been undertaken on the impact of wind turbines on bats. The survey data pinpoints Nathusius’s pipistrelle, noctule, Leisler’s, and barbastelle as the species at highest risk of mortality or injury due to wind turbines in the UK, considering their collision risk and rarity.

Additional investigations indicate that, for bats, the likelihood of collisions with wind turbines escalates with the quantity of turbines and the length of rotor blades. Notably, wind turbine curtailment has proven to be an effective approach in mitigating fatality rates among bats.

Why are bat surveys important?

Bats play a vital role in ecosystems by contributing to pollination, seed dispersal, and insect control. Understanding the bat species present in an area helps developers make informed decisions to minimise the impact on local biodiversity.

Bat surveys also provide insights into the locations of bat roosts and foraging areas. Using this information, projects can be designed to avoid critical bat habitats, preserving their roosting sites and maintaining the ecological balance.

Bats are a protected species, and the UK has regulations in place to protect them. Therefore, conducting bat surveys ensures compliance with environmental laws and permits developers to navigate potential legal challenges associated with impacting bat habitats.

How can Collington Winter assist?

Collington Winter Environmental are a team of ecological consultants with extensive experience in undertaking bat and hibernating bat 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.

Please note that we use all of the most up to date bat survey guidance when conducting our surveys. If it is determined that your proposed project may affect bats, our team can provide bat mitigation measures to ensure that your project meets legal requirements.

Please get in touch with our Ecology Director Olivia Collington ( for more information on protected species surveys and our ecological consulting work. We also provide ecological appraisal and assessment services.

Our Director Jane Winter also provides landscape architecture services.

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