There are 17 species of bat in the UK, 9 of these in Scotland. One species is virtually extinct and two are classed as endangered. Nine others are considered to be threatened.
All species of bats found in Scotland and the UK are classed as European protected species and provided protection by a piece of legislation known as the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended). Bat roosts are also protected.
Under the Habitats Directive it is an offence to deliberately or recklessly:
- capture, injure or kill a wild bat;
- harass a wild bat or group of bats;
- to disturb a wild bat in a roost (any structure or place it uses for shelter or protection);
- to disturb a wild bat while it is rearing or otherwise caring for its young (this would be a 'maternity' roost);
- to obstruct access to a bat roost or to otherwise deny the animal use of the roost;
- to disturb such a wild bat in a manner that is, or in circumstances which are, likely to significantly affect the local distribution or abundance of that species;
- to disturb a wild bat in a manner that is, or in circumstances which are, likely to impair its ability to survive, breed or reproduce, or rear or otherwise care for its young.
It is also an offence to:
- damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal
- keep, transport, sell or exchange or offer for sale or exchange any wild bat or any part or derivative of one
In some cases their foraging sites may also be safeguarded by a designation such as Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Building Developments, Repairs and Arboriculture
Developers and property owners may have to commission a bat survey if the property is likely to have a bat roost or roosts. If bats or evidence of bat roosts are found, a licence will required from Scottish Natural Heritage in order to proceed with the work and a Mitigation Plan for Bats will have to be prepared. The same approach will require to be adopted if mature trees are to be felled or tree surgery is required.