No bat licence before demolition of property with 3 bat roosts

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Silvergirl
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2024 9:19 am
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No bat licence before demolition of property with 3 bat roosts

Post by Silvergirl »

This is a local property to me. Looking for some advice really. Is it fraud and/or wildlife crime ?
A planning application was brought by developers in 2021 to demolish an old pub and build houses on the land. It was well known that bats were present in the roof space of the pub . A previous worker at the pub they were there many years ago flying through the upstairs passages.
Two Arbtech surveys in 21 and 22 found three roosting bat species- common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and long eared bats.
The original application was rejected and finally an appeal was won 25/9/23 with a clear stipulation to obtain EPSM licences and produce a method statement to handle the bats during demolition.
The pub was demolished two weeks later on 9/10/23.
No licences were requested by developers ( my FOI to Natural England in April 24) for GCN or bats.
A new request to planning dated 28/3/24 has recently been put on the council planning system (on 17/4/24) applying for the GCN/bat restrictions to be removed. An unfilled Natural England report sheet is attached, not a licence. A letter from the council planner dated yesterday 18/4/24 turns down this request.
A new survey is suddenly attached stating that no entry/exits by bats were noted in surveys 12/5/23 to 25/7/23. Due to the poor state of the property no internal checks are possible to verify roosts. The surveyor is supplied by Environmental Business Solutions which appears to be a mostly dormant company based in Scotland critically NOT Arbtech who provided the previous work. All three bat species are detected in the trees around the site.
A letter to Natural England (called 'bat roost ')is also listed from this bat surveyor dated 6/3/24 strangely asks for permission from Natural England to retrospectively disregard the need for a licence. Pointedly, the surveyor says no licence can be granted retrospectively to the developer which seems to indicate this is what they have asked for.The developers should know to adhere to rules around protected species but this shows perhaps a deliberate naivety to protect themselves later. Are they going to claim ignorance as a defence when all along they have known exactly what they were doing- knock down first and ask questions later.

To me, all this points to a deliberate act to avoid the hassle of getting licences for the GCNs and bats on the site and the likely destruction of bat roosts and hibernating bats.

All the applications (3, I think)with the Council state no work has begun on the site but it is flattened and surrounded by fences.

My concerns around this local site date back to 2021 so I have followed the planning closely and made comments from the start asking for the wildlife to be respected throughout any approved works.
Rushton
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Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2023 3:15 pm

Re: No bat licence before demolition of property with 3 bat roosts

Post by Rushton »

Oh definitely dodgy and land flattening before applying for PP is common. There are countries whose local authorities would take action on this but with the austerity budgets in the UK these days, which council is going to reserve expenditure on pursuing bat protection law breakers? This is what the developer is counting on, not to mention the council's expectation of levies and future council tax revenues.

It's worth raising with the local ward Councillor though, to check due diligence was followed: maybe it will uncover something. However unlike that Crooked House pub in Staffs, where enforcement would have popularl support and legal costs would not be wasted, there's probably not many votes in preserving bat habitats. Even then the pub owners have gone to appeal.

Unless someone knows of a trust out there that would want to make an example of this developer?
Silvergirl
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2024 9:19 am
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Re: No bat licence before demolition of property with 3 bat roosts

Post by Silvergirl »

Thanks.
In this situation the developer HAS PP, so the building has been approved but they have ignored the requirement for EPSM licences.
I get the point that many people don't like development being held up by bats but in this case all they had to do was abide by the approved planning application and houses can go up.
Would the fact that they are misleading on their planning statements be something that the council can act on?
Rushton
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2023 3:15 pm

Re: No bat licence before demolition of property with 3 bat roosts

Post by Rushton »

Silvergirl wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2024 9:50 am Would the fact that they are misleading on their planning statements be something that the council can act on?
In a perfect world yes, and if you and others feel strongly, the usual methods of complaint can be followed. But there is no guarantee of redress after the fact. Sadly, if our council is anything to go by, you have to be realistic about whether anything but lip service or platitudes would ever be forthcoming. "We'll do better next time" they'll say.
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