Natural England is planning to launch a new development bat licence. The Bat Low Impact Licence is designed to simplify the licensing of certain bat projects and would streamline licence applications for schemes that have a low impact on bat roosts. This would include impacts on small roosts of the more widespread bats, such as works affecting a summer transitory roost for one or two individual common pipistrelle bats.
Only registered consultants would be able to apply for this new type of licence. A smaller application would be made to Natural England for the site licence. The licence will allow the disturbance and capture of bats, and damage or destruction to the bat roost of low conservation significance. This type of licence can only be used for works affecting no more than three or more common species of bats in small numbers. This will include common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, whiskered, Brandt’s, Daubenton’s, Natterer’s and brown long-eared bats. These tend to be the bats most commonly affected by projects.
Natural England are intending to launch the new process in Spring 2015. The slimmed down application process would reduce costs associated with licence applications, and speed up the licensing process therefore potentially allow works on site sooner (less than 10 working days). Currently Natural England ask for 30 working days to process licence applications, however have been experiencing longer delays in recent months. Savings to developers during the initial trial are estimated to be over £180,000 and 444 weeks saved in possible delays to development.