The Earned Recognition (‘ER’) scheme is soon to be piloted by Natural England, the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management and the Bat Conservation Trust. The scheme is similar to the current Bat Mitigation Class Licence (BMCL) with a much increased scope to include all types of roost and all species. Should the scheme be successful it is likely that it will replace the current mitigation licensing process in the long-term.
Three levels of licensing are currently proposed as part of the ER pilot, from Level One (lowest risk to bats) through to Level 3 (highest risk to bats). To register for the ER pilot professional ecologists will need to complete an assessment process (involving online testing, a practical assessment, submission of a portfolio and a structured interview) for each level they apply for. If successful they will then be able to register sites requiring mitigation against the scheme in a similar manner to the existing BMCL scheme. The intention of the scheme is to streamline the mitigation process for all types of roosts, not just ‘low impact’ roosts which can be registered under BMCL.
Our senior ecologist Matt Wall said of the pilot “The ER scheme offers a promising new approach to licensing of bat mitigation in England, which could have clear benefits to us as ecologists, but also, and importantly, to our clients. Given Natural England’s stretched capacity and their recently highlighted lack of funding, this will hopefully be an important step to reducing NE workloads and turnaround times. Importantly, this new approach may also provide more capacity for enforcement of standards and compliance checks. At this early consultation stage, I cannot stress enough how critical it is to engage with the consultation surveys. It is vital that everyone has their say to ensure that the approach and potential implications of the scheme are considered.”
We would encourage all of our colleagues, clients and contacts to have their say on what may be a revolutionary step in mitigation licensing for bats in England. The consultation for ecologists can be found here, and the consultation for other stakeholders (i.e. developers, architects, planners etc.) can be found here. The closing time and date for both surveys is midday on 5th January 2021.