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Company fined for destroying bat roost

A housing development company has been prosecuted for destroying a bat roost.
A housing development company has been prosecuted for destroying a bat roost.

City and Westminster Developments Ltd, based in Kilburn Lane, London, W10, pleaded guilty at Hendon Magistrates’ Court to destroying the resting place of a wild animal of a European Protected Species, namely the Common Pipistrelle bat - contrary to Sec 41(1)(d) of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

The Company was fined £4,500, with £450 victim surcharge and £85 costs. They were originally summonsed on 24 August to face the charge.

The hearing was on Thursday, 17 September.

The company purchased properties on Great North Way for redevelopment and paid for an ecological survey to be carried out prior to commencing demolition and building works.

Ecologists concluded that the buildings had a "high" probability of use by roosting bats and suggested a further survey. Unhappy with the outcome, the company asked the surveyors to change this likelihood to "low"; which they refused to do.

As a result, a second ecology company was instructed. They reached the same conclusion - that there was a high probability the buildings would support roosting bats. During the course of a subsequent survey by this second company, a number of bats were seen to emerge from three of the four buildings.

Despite this, on 19 August a demolition company were given access to the site and told to demolish one of the buildings so that access could be gained to the rear of the site. In doing so, a bat roost - which is protected in law - was destroyed.

The matter was reported to police and an investigation carried out by the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit.

DC Sarah Bailey, of the Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "In Britain and Europe all species of bats are protected in law; however the number of bats in London is declining. This is mainly because many of their traditional roosting and foraging sites are being destroyed by land and building developments; as well as home improvements such as loft conversions and timber treatments.

"If homeowners or developers are planning to do any work on buildings they should first check whether bats are present as some can roost in the smallest crevices. Bats are a unique and important part of London's ecology and it's important we protect the wildlife that exists alongside us in London and do our best to preserve it for the future."

Joe Nunez-Mino, from the Bat Conservation trust, said: "Bats are protected due to the large historical declines in their numbers. Bats have a low reproductive rate and are particularly vulnerable to a range of threats including the destruction and disturbance of their roosts.

"The Bat Conservation Trust works in conjunction with others to provide solutions to improve conservation action for bats. As ever the Bat Conservation Trust regrets that prosecutions are needed to uphold the legislation that protects bats and their roosts but acknowledges that this is necessary to hold offenders to account for their illegal actions.

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Company fined for destroying bat roost
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