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Bat licensing

All bats are European Protected Species (EPS). It is against the law to damage or destroy a bat roost, or deliberately to capture, kill, injure or disturb a bat. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) grants licences so you can work within the law

All British bat species are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended), known as the ‘Habitats Regulations’. This is because they have declined throughout Europe in recent decades. Bats have a unique relationship with humans, with some of them sharing our homes for part of the year. For this reason, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) deals with many hundreds of bat enquiries each year from householders.

This information is focused on bat licensing in Wales and is not a comprehensive review of bat ecology or the law relating to bats.

Legislation

Under the Habitats Regulations, it is an offence if you:

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill any wild animal of an EPS,
  • Deliberately disturb wild animals of any such species,
  • Damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal

Disturbance is defined as that which is likely:

  • to impair their ability –
    • to survive, to breed or reproduce, or to rear or nurture their young, or
    • in the case of animals of a hibernating or migratory species, to hibernate or migrate; or
  • to affect significantly the local distribution or abundance of the species to which they belong

Defra and the Welsh Government will publish a joint guidance document on the interpretation of the offences relating to disturbance, and to damage and destruction of breeding sites and resting places.

There are other offences relating to possession, transport and sale. See ‘Possession and Sale of Protected Species’ for information on this.

Licensing

NRW issues licences under Regulation 53 of the Habitats Regulations to allow you to work within the law. We issue them for specific purposes stated in the Regulations, if the following three tests are met:

  • the purpose of the work meets one of those listed in the Habitats Regulations (see below);
  • that there is no satisfactory alternative;
  • that the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status (FCS) in their natural range

Licensing purposes

The Habitats Regulations permits licences to be issued for a specific set of purposes including:

  • include preserving public health or public safety or other imperative reasons of over-riding public interest including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment;
  • scientific and educational purposes,
  • ringing or marking
  • conserving wild animals

For more information on survey licences, see ‘Applying for licences to undertake standard survey work on bats’ and ‘NRW Bat licence application form’.

For more information on EPS (development) licences refer to the series of useful links on this page.

If you are a householder, and you have concerns about bats at your property (other than queries related to planning applications or a development) you can contact our Enquiry Line for advice, telephone 0300 065 3000.

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