Stone bridges are most likely to provide a suitable roost sites, especially of located over water, but you can also find bats in concrete bridges or within wood ones. Bats can be found in crevices such as gaps between the brick work, drainage holes, expansion joints, gaps and cracks as well as voids and gaps within concrete structures. Work on bridges can have a direct effect on bats roosting within them, tasks such as re-pointing, rebuilding and demolition can injure or kill bats and even painting or timber treatments can affect them. If such work disturbs, injures or kills a bat or damages the area in which they are roosting, the work will be considered illegal unless correct procedure is followed (Bats in Bridges). If a bat is found during the works then all work must be ceased and advice given by the appropriate Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO). To maintain best practice it is advised that you should contact your local SNCO in advance of works preferably with one year in advance of planned works.
There are certain measures that can be followed to avoid damage or disturbance to potential bat roosts, when planning bridge work. They are as follows:
If your bridge does have a bat roost then a Habitats Regulation License (HBR) must be applied for. A Survey for bats will also need to be undertaken by an bat specialist, who will apply for the HBR and provide options for mitigation such as:
Photo: Bridge on the Trent and Mersey Canal and potential bat roost (photo by: Jacqui Hatcher)
You should record the presence of protected species on a national database. This can done by contacting the local Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO). Alternatively you can record online at the National Biodiversity Network. You should also alert the appropriate land owner, council and or management body to the presence and location of this species.
If you encounter or believe that there are bats present on a site where work is being conducted contact the Bat Conservation Trust or your Local Bat Group for advice and guidance on what should be the next steps you take.