Network Norwich and Norfolk > Regional News > Norfolk church shown how to work around bats 

Norfolk church shown how to work around bats 

PastonSiteVisitA new licence which will help churches carry out repairs, renovation, and other building works where small numbers of common bat species are present was demonstrated at a North Norfolk church this week.

The new ‘low impact bat class licence’ trialled by Natural England was demonstrated on a site visit to St Margaret’s Church, Paston on Thursday March 20.  The trial which began in July 2013 is testing a streamlined method of permitting building work for buildings with low conservation-status roosts.

Present on the site visit (pictured) were the Bishop of Norwich, The Right Revd Graham James, Chair of the Church Buildings Council, Anne Sloman, a group from Natural England including Chief Executive Dave Webster, European Protected Species Senior Specialist Dr Kathryn Murray, and Senior Adviser Stephen Rudd, as well as Philip Parker, a local ecological consultant.

The Bishop of Norwich said: “This is good news for local churches seeking to undertake repairs or refurbishment where bats are present. Churches are primarily for the worship of God’s people and centres for community life. The wellbeing of bats is important but should not take priority over the core purpose of these wonderful buildings.”

Philip Parker, a local ecologist who has worked extensively on the project, said: “The whole process [of approving licences for building work] will be much simpler, much quicker and much more cost effective.”

Anne Sloman said: “This trial shows real promise in helping churches where bats are present to make essential repairs and alterations so that these buildings can continue to be available for worship and used by the wider community. We hope that this trial will be able to be rolled out nationally as soon as possible to help more churches suffering the delays and expense that they currently face. ”

To date, 32 consultants have signed up and can now register sites under this new class licence. There are currently 115 sites which have been registered, including seven churches.

The issue of large bat populations remains problematic for churches that are struggling to cope with the financial costs of the damages caused by their presence.

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