What is a Bat Low Impact Class Licence?

What is a Bat Low Impact Class Licence?

Bat Low Impact Class Licence is a type of bat licence which is granted by Natural England (or Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage), that permits activities which would ordinarily be unlawful.  Legislation makes it an offence to destroy, damage or block access to a bat roost, or to deliberately or recklessly disturb, injure or kill any UK bat.

If bat surveys have been completed that identify that a mitigation strategy is required to ensure that bats and bat habitat are not damaged by the proposed development, a bat licence may be needed.

Licence applications can only be submitted once planning permission is granted and must be prepared by a qualified ecologist.  The licence itself must be issued prior to any development activities taking place, so this route can cause delays to development if not considered when setting out the construction schedule.

How do I get a bat licence?

In most situations, an application for a full European Protected Species Mitigation Licence (EPSML) is made.

For applications submitted to Natural England, this will include of a full method statement, application form and a works schedule. Depending on the type of development a Reason Statement could be required. Timing of works can be critical when working around bat roosts. Once submitted, Natural England typically advises allowing 30 working days to process the application and send through the approval documents (in our experience, this can vary depending on Natural England’s workloads).

Natural England has begun to charge for some EPSM, this depends on the nature of the development.

The process is identical for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) with applications being submitted to NRW. Currently NRW is not charging for licences.

When a development project meets the criteria of a Bat Low Impact Class Licence (or BLICL), however, the timescales can be significantly shorter.

What is a Bat Low Impact Class Licence (BLICL)?

A BLICL is a licence which allows works that can affect bat roosts, on the proviso that the bat roost present is for a common species of bat and the roost is of ‘low conservation significance’. BLICL is a streamlined process and can only be prepared by experienced bat workers who are specifically trained and approved by Natural England.

Under this system, the BLICL Registered Consultant holds the licence, and your site is registered against this. Natural England typically approves successful BLICL applications within 15 working days (often sooner).  Under a BLICL, there is no requirement to undertake post-construction monitoring, which has the added benefit of reducing ongoing fees and/or responsibilities at a site.

Can BLICL be applied to any development?

The bat low impact licence (BLICL) can only be used for certain sites.  The BLICL system can only be applied in England and not Wales or Scotland. Furthermore, only sites with a low number of common species (including Common pipistrelle, Soprano pipistrelle, Brown long-eared, Whiskered, Brandt’s, Daubenton’s , Natterer’s bat, and serotine) can be registered. The roost within the site must be of ‘low conservation significance’. This type of licence cannot be applied to maternity roosts, if there are more than three roosts present or if there are rare bat species within a site. The Ecologists at The Landmark Practice can advise whether your site is suitable for the BLICL.

In summary, the bat low impact class licence has a streamlined application process dramatically reducing the extent to which survey information has to be documented, resulting in a significantly faster application facility for clients.

Its important to remember that, whilst the bat low impact licence streamlines and speeds up the application process as for full EPSM Licence applications, BLICL must be supported by survey work to the BCT survey guidelines and must be up to date; it must be from the ‘current or most recent optimal season’ (Optimal season is May-August).

Where do I start?

The Landmark Practice’s ecologists are experienced in scoping and undertaking bat surveys, and in preparing bat licence applications (including Bat Low Impact Class Licences).  If you need technical and professional support on bats and planning, or any other aspect of how to steer a cost effective route through planning, please contact Stephanie Attwood (stephanie.attwood@thelandmarkpractice.com) or Alison Pike (Alison.Pike@thelandmarkpractice.com ) or telephone 0117 9230455.