Bats and Bridges

Bridges

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.

What should I do if I am planning on undertaking bridge work?

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:

  • Be aware that there is a possibility of finding a bat roost during an inspection
  • Identify and note signs of bat roosts or potential roosts in work schedules
  • Ensure relevant information  is passed on to the appropriate SNCO or local bat group, as well as to those who will be conducting the work

What if I have bats roosting in a bridge with work due to be undertaken?

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:

  • Carefully timed work, with regards to breeding or hibernating bats
  • Hand pointing in sensitive areas, such as in areas where cracks and crevices are to be retained
  • Ensuring roosts remain intact wherever possible
  • Creating new roost sites, where roosts are to be lost. With Bat Bricks or boxes being potentially incorporated into the bridge

Trent and Mersey BridgePhoto: Bridge on the Trent and Mersey Canal and potential bat roost (photo by: Jacqui Hatcher)

Reporting Protected Species

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.