Bats: Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 29th November 2021.

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Photo of Lord Macpherson of Earl's Court Lord Macpherson of Earl's Court Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have carried out a cost-benefit analysis of bat surveys in planning applications; and, if so, what value they placed on the life of a bat, disaggregated by indigenous species.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

This government has committed to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it, underpinned by our target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. Protecting and conserving bat populations, including species like the serotine bat, is an important part of this.

Natural England (NE) has not carried out a cost-benefit analysis of bat surveys in planning applications. However, NE is in the process of evaluating the benefit to bat conservation from actions taken as a result of regulatory work. It is expected that the initial findings will be published in early 2022/23.

NE is currently testing a new approach to bat licensing through the Bat Earned Recognition Pilot. The pilot aims to streamline the licensing process through accrediting ecologists, enabling them to have greater discretion to progress low risk cases, estimated to be up to 90% of all applications. This will reduce costs and delays for customers whilst providing better outcomes for bats. The pilot is well advanced and is currently in the process of accrediting ecologists, with a view to being operational from early in 2022.

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