Caerphilly man guilty for destruction of three Bat Roosts

Pipstrelle Bats

A builder from Caerphilly has received a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £111.00 for illegally removing a roof at a property in Gelligaer and destroying 3 separate bat roosts where protected Common, Soprano Pipistrelles and Whiskered bats were known to be roosting.

Mr Robert Roberts, pleaded guilty to breaching the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) at Newport Magistrates Court on Monday 25 March 2024.

A full ecological survey completed by an independent ecologist employed by the house owner showed that the bat roosts were present at Alpine Cottage in Gelligaer.

All three species are priority species in the UK and Europe and are protected by both UK and European Wildlife law.

The presence of the bats meant that the roof of the building could not be removed without a European Protected Species License and appropriate mitigation in place.

The builder failed to apply for the Licence from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) before removing the roof.

In court, Mr Roberts argued that a breakdown in communication between himself and the house owner had resulted in the roof removal taking place too early.

He further argued that despite removing the entire roof, the bats had now returned and that the bats had thus not been harmed.

Unfortunately, the lack of a licence from NRW further ensured that no ecological support during the roof removal was in place.

An onsite ecologist, present during the roof removal, would have been able to carefully monitor and ensure the safety of any more bats that may have been present thus protecting any bats still in situ.

PC Mark Powell on secondment with Natural Resources Wales Industry Regulation team said:

Officers from NRW are successfully working with police forces across Wales, and the National Wildlife Crime Unit to investigate and prosecute those responsible for committing wildlife and rural crime offences.
The ecologists that compiled the original survey at the address confirmed that there were three separate roosts present and two of those roosts, they allege, were maternity roosts.
This destruction of confirmed Bat Roosts without ecological onsite support and without the European Protected Species Licence, is shocking.
The loss of two maternity roosts is simply devastating and whilst it is fortunate that bats have returned to the address, the potential loss of a full years’ breeding cycle may have impacted the species in the local area.
Legislation is in place and is designed to protect our already dwindling protected native species.
The conservation of bats, and other protected species, must be ensured if future generations are to benefit from their continued existence.

To report an environmental incident, please contact NRW’s Incident communication line open 24/7, on 0300 065 3000.