Bat Surveys

Whether developing or demolishing a site, you may need a bat survey in order for your planning application to be successful. Our team of specialist ecologists take away the hassle involved by providing the surveys and reports you need in order to move forward with your project.


Why are Bats protected?

There are currently 17 bat species breeding in the UK. Bats and their roosts are protected by law due to a decline in all 17 of these species as the result of a number of factors including habitat loss and changes in land use, which subsequently has an impact on the abundance of their invertebrate prey. Some bat species (including greater and lesser horseshoe, barbastelle, Bechstein’s bat) are designated as priority species due to their significant decline.

Due to the continued decline in bat populations across the UK, all bat species are protected under both European and UK legislation, comprising the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulation 2017 (as amended by the Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

Bat Surveys

Due to their variable activity patterns and hibernation over the late autumn and winter period, surveys to determine the presence (or likely absence) of summer roosts of bats are best carried out in the optimum period between May & August when bats are at their most active; though surveys can be carried out between April and September if weather conditions are good. Please refer to our Ecology Survey Calendar for further information on bat and other protected species surveys.

What is a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA)?

A PreliminaryWharton offer Preliminary Roost Assessments (also known as initial bat surveys) which are regularly requested by Local Planning Authorities when buildings are to be significantly altered or demolished.

This is the first step in identifying whether your property or land is suitable to support roosting bats, and indeed may identify whether bats are already present. PRAs can be carried out throughout the year.

Bat Emergence Survey

If your Preliminary Roost Assessment finds that you do have the potential for bat activity, you will require an activity survey/ emergence survey. These surveys often take place at dawn or dusk and can take place between April and October. Together with a preliminary roost assessment, a bat emergence survey is required in order to get your planning application granted by your local authority. Due to bats hibernating over the winter months, it is important to book your PRA and subsequent Emergence survey in plenty of time to avoid hold up at the planning stage. If a license application is needed, please read here for more information.

The WNIC bat survey process

The Preliminary Root Assessments process involves:

  • An initial survey inside and outside of the building to determine entry/ exit points, potential roost features and evidence of the presence of bats. 
  • A desk study assesses the local and wider environment for the sustainability in supporting bats and includes a records search that reveal known, recorded roots
  • The results are evaluated to determine the sustainability of the building for bats. Consequently, further surveys may be recommended.

Let’s begin!

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Frequently Asked Questions about Bat Surveys

Are you planning to demolish or develop a site? If so, one of the things that you need to consider is the presence of wildlife, including any protected species such as bats. Failing to establish whether protected species are present on the site could result in the destruction of vital habitats and put wildlife at further risk.

Bat surveys are used to check whether bats are already present or likely to be sheltering at a site earmarked for development. If bats are present, further surveys will be carried out to determine the species of bat, the number of bats present, the type of roost and where they are located. Below are some of the frequently asked questions that many people have regarding bat surveys:

The UK is home to 17 species of breeding bats, all of which are classified as protected species. Bats are protected by UK and European law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended), respectively.

It is an offence for anyone without a license to:

  • Intentionally or recklessly injure, take or kill a bat;
  • To possess a bat (unless obtained legally) whether alive or dead;
  • Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place that bats use for shelter or protection whether bats are present or not;
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat while it is occupying a structure or place that it uses for shelter or protection.

The legislation is in place to protect bats and their habitat to prevent further decline in species numbers. Failing to comply with the relevant legislation puts you in breach of the law, and you could be prosecuted, even if you disturbed the bats unintentionally. The prosecution could result in imprisonment, fines of £5,000 per animal affected and confiscation of vehicles and equipment used in the offence

Many local planning authorities require bat surveys to take place before planning permission can be granted. This is because the potential presence of a protected species is a material consideration for planning and would need to be considered within the design of any building or scheme. Commissioning our specialist ecologists to conduct bat surveys and produce subsequent reports on your behalf is an excellent way to satisfy this need.

Conducting a bat survey at the correct time of year is vital to ensure that the results are accurate. Bats’ activities and behaviour habits change throughout the year, so planning the timing of your survey is crucial.

Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA) for bats

Preliminary roost assessments (PRAs) can be conducted throughout the year to determine the initial potential of a building to be suitable for roosting bats.

Bat Emergence Surveys

The optimum time to conduct bat activity surveys is May, – August. However, dependent on factors such as weather and temperature some emergence surveys may be able to continue into September.

Bat Activity/ Transect Surveys

Bat activity surveys can be undertaken between April and October with the number of visits per month being dependent upon the suitability of the habitats on site

Checks for Hibernating Bats

Checks for hibernating bats can be carried out during December, January, and February. But it is also possible to check for hibernating bats in November and March if weather conditions and temperatures are appropriate.

Bats can be found in many unexpected places, so being aware of the possibility of bats roosting in any site you acquire for development is crucial. Bats in the UK do not build their own roosts/nests, but choose to roost in existing structures. This makes it even more vital to commission a bat survey, as you can only sometimes predict where bats will seek shelter.

Bats move around a lot during the year to different places of shelter to best suit their needs. However, roosts are most commonly found in trees, buildings, and underground.

Planning decisions for your site will need to be made based on up-to-date information. Therefore, when commissioning a bat survey, you need to know how long it will be valid. In most cases, surveys remain valid for between 12 and 18 months, but reports can remain valid for up to three years. The length of the survey’s validity will often depend on the report’s initial findings and whether any changes have taken place at the site since the initial survey took place.

For European Protected Species (EPS) licencing purposes Natural England require survey data from the most recent bat survey season to your planning application.

Booking your bat survey is easy. Here at Wharton, our team of professional ecologists will be happy to use their expertise to meet all your bat survey needs and help your project progress faster.

To get started with booking a bat survey, simply complete our online form with some details about your project. We will then send you your quote.

Wharton undertook an initial bat survey which identified suitable areas for roosting bats and evidence of bat activity (droppings).



Wharton undertook a preliminary ecological appraisal, bat activity and emergence/return to roost surveys, and completed a shadow Habitat …

Wharton undertook an initial bat survey which identified suitable areas for roosting bats and evidence of bat activity (droppings).

“Barberry has always found the Wharton team to be knowledgeable and efficient in their input backed with a commercially realistic approach to the development process”

M P Winters - Construction Director, Barberry Group Limited