The Rules and Regulations

This is a brief overview of the legal situation and should not be used in a court of law; for detailed legal guidance on the law pertaining to bats and birds for a particular development please contact one of our ecologists or Natural England.

Bats in England have been protected under a number of regulations and amendments but the most up-to-date and relevant are:

  • The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (Regulation 43)
  • Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Section 9)

The result of Regulations and Acts is that all species of bat and their breeding sites or resting places (roosts) are protected under law. It is an offence to:

Horseshoe bats in a Cornish mine
  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat
  • Deliberately disturb a bat in a way that would affect its ability to survive, breed or rear young or significantly affect the local distribution or abundance of the species
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat at a roost
  • Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a roost whether bats are present or not
  • Damage or destroy a roost whether bats are present or not
  • Posses, control, transport, sell exchange or offer for sale/exchange any live or dead bat or any part of a bat
Daubenton's Bat

Through the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 (this has been updated and consolidated with subsequent amendments by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 mentioned above) bats were designated European protected species as part of a Europe wide effort to conserve certain plant and animal species.

Any development which is likely to result in the disturbance of a European protected species, or damage to its habitat usually requires a European protected species licence from Natural England. 'Development' is interpreted broadly to include projects involving demolition of buildings, rebuilding, structural alterations and additions to buildings.

For further advice or information on bats you can download the following Natural England advisory leaflets from our website:

Greater Horseshoe Bat

Barn Owls and the Law

All birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law and it is an offence, with certain exceptions, to intentionally:

  • Kill, injure or take any wild bird.
  • Take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.
  • Take or destroy the egg of any wild bird.

Barn Owls, and other birds listed in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, are given a further level of protection against disturbance whilst breeding.