Inhabitants of older buildings often share their home with protected species: refurbishment works within existing buildings must be respectful to bats and wild birds, for example. If external works are planned, such as extensions or changes to earthworks other species may be affected, such as great rested newts and slow-worms, protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Habitats of these protected species are also protected and seasonal nesting or roosting can affect construction operations if these are not effectively timed into the programme for development. In order to mitigate the potential for the local ecology to cause undue delay to design progress the commission of an ecology survey should be discussed with your architect.

The results of an ecology survey may reveal information that should be incorporated into the fundamental stages of the design. The seasonal affects of protected species can influence when surveys can be carried out, and ultimately when construction works can be scheduled. Appropriate licenses are required to be in place before construction commences which can take around six weeks to obtain. 

Bats are a common occupier of heritage buildings. Typically a ‘bat survey’, often required for a planning application, has limited optimal time to be carried out, and may often require a series of visits scheduled over several weeks . Once the type of bat, and the reason for their occupation in the building, is known mitigation measures, and an appropriate timetable for the works, can be developed. Ecologists can be busy at this time of year sitting outside of buildings at dawn and dusk to monitor bat emergence – so it is recommended to engage one well ahead of these seasonal windows of opportunity.

* Please note! This brief blog is intended to raise awareness of protected species and how important it can be to consult with your project architect on arranging an ecology survey; it is for general information only and professional advice must be sought for project-specific circumstances.