Developer fined for breaching conditions of bat licence

Grant Prior 7 months ago

A Derby-based property developer has been ordered to pay a total of £14,435.17 in a prosecution brought by Natural England for breaching the conditions of a European Protected Species Bat Mitigation Licence.

Patrick Weekes, aged 55, of Radbourne Construction Limited, Derby, pleaded guilty to four offences at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court relating to a housing development in Harehill, near Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

He was fined £3,200 plus a victim’s surcharge of £1,280 and ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £9,955.17.

A European Protected Species Bat Mitigation Licence was issued to the defendant in October 2020.

The licence permitted the capture, disturbance, transport, and damage of resting places for Brown long-eared (Plecotus auritus) and Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) bats.

And it also permitted the damage of a breeding site for Brown long-eared bats.

The court was told that Natural England’s Wildlife Licensing Service had been made aware of potential breaches of the licence issued to the defendant in October 2022.

Natural England took the decision to prosecute because the breaches were considered so significant as to have impacted the welfare and Favourable Conservation Status of the bat species involved.

The breaches left brown long-eared bats with no suitable maternity roosting provision within the site.

They also significantly reduced the suitability of roosting opportunities for common pipistrelle bats, as well as endangering the welfare of both species.

Following a compliance check, Natural England’s Enforcement Team led a multi-agency site visit in February 2023 which evidenced that the defendant had breached the conditions of his licence on four counts:

  • Failed to install Bitumen type 1F roofing felt with hessian matrix as agreed in the licence. This roofing felt is designed to be non-breathable which mitigates the risks to bats
  • Failed to install various specific ridge crevices and access tiles to allow bats to roost within the roof
  • Failed to complete post-development monitoring as agreed in the licence
  • Stripped the roof of a property containing a Common pipistrelle day roost without direct ecological supervision, as agreed in the licence

In sentencing the defendant, the court noted that he had acted in contravention to the professional advice provided by both their own ecological consultant and Natural England.

Also the defendant did not carry out work to mitigate the harmful impact on bats when so instructed by Natural England.

Steph Bird-Halton, Natural England’s National Delivery Director, said: “Natural England does not take the decision to prosecute lightly.

“However, where individuals or companies place the welfare or Favourable Conservation Status of protected species at risk, we will not hesitate to take targeted and proportionate enforcement action.

“I would like to thank the Bat Conservation Trust’s Wildlife Crime Project for the assistance they provided in this case.”

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