Advice Section

Bat Survey – Specific Requirements For Windfarm Proposals

Posted on: December 3rd, 2011

Bats are afforded a high level of strict protection under The Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 as amended. On assessing your application NIEA consider that there is reasonable likelihood of bats being present on the proposed site. In order to meet national and international statutory obligations, NIEA has recommended to Planning Service that appropriate bat surveys should be carried out prior to the consideration of your planning application.

The surveys should be carried out by a professional ecological consultant with relevant experience and qualifications in bat survey techniques. Once we have received the survey information we will be in a position to comment further on your proposal.

The applicant should be aware that due to the seasonal and highly mobile nature of bats, further survey work may be required where timing constraints and/or poor weather conditions occur.

  • All survey work and survey reports must be carried out according to the *Bat
  • Conservation Trust ‘Bat Surveys Good Practice Guidelines’ document and Eurobats guidance.
  • The applicant must ensure that the commissioned bat surveyor(s) have the necessary experience and qualifications to carry out this work. It is preferable that the surveyor(s) is a member of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM).
  • The date and time of the survey and the qualifications and experience of the surveyor(s) should be included in the survey report.
  • The surveyor should ensure that equipment used is sufficient to identify all species of bat
  • Surveys should be carried out within one year of submission to the department.
  • The bat surveys must be carried out once per month between April and September during temperate weather conditions.
  • Temperature and wind speed at 2 metres above ground at the time of surveying should be provided in the survey report.
  • There should be an appropriate number of both dusk & dawn surveys.
  • The entire site and any suitable habitat within 200 metres of the red line boundary should be surveyed.
  • Approximate numbers of bats must be specified
  • Species of bats must be specified. Northern Ireland Environment Agency
  • The survey should assess the presence of any established commuting and foraging paths within the survey area.
  • Approximate flying height should be specified if possible
  • The survey should take advantage of any opportunity to survey at height
  • The information should be presented in a written report and should include a large scale map. The exact location of roosts, roost entrances, advertising posts, swarming activity foraging and commuting movements should be shown. All evidence of use by Bats found, for example droppings, should be included.
  • The survey should establish whether  bats have established roosts, (active or inactive) or use the area for commuting, foraging, migrating or for breeding purposes, e.g. advertising posts for individual males. Swarming sites or significant hibernation sites should also be investigated and recorded.
  • Further survey effort may be required if the proposed windfarm poses a high risk to the local bat population.
  • If necessary, the survey should recommend the most appropriate ways in which the Bats can be protected from the impacts of development throughout the duration of the development.
  • In the event that the planning application goes to appeal or public inquiry, the person(s) contracted to carry out survey work may be required to appear at, or give evidence to, the inquiry.
  • All located roosts should be reported to the Northern Ireland Bat Group*
  • For more guidance and information on survey methodology and bat ecology please refer to the following publications and websites;

NIEA Development Management website;

NIEA Development Management publication – Bats and Development

*NI Bat group

Bat Conservation Trust website and Best Practice Guidelines