Developer pleads guilty to knowingly demolishing protected bat roost

A major housebuilder has pleaded guilty to knowingly allowing the roost of a protected bat species to be destroyed as part of redevelopment plans for a site in London.

Bellway Homes pleaded guilty to the crime at Bromley Magistrates' Court last week.

The court heard that the developer had commissioned a bat survey for the redevelopment of a Woolwich property in south London in 2017. The survey showed the presence of a soprano pipistrelle bat – a European protected species –  returning to a gap between a window and lintel at the property.

Under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, it is an offence to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of a protected species. 

Bellway Homes was required to apply for a licence from Natural England to remove the bat population but the buildings were instead demolished between March and August 2018.

Robert Short, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said Bellway Homes had “recklessly” authorised sub-contractors to knock down a building knowing there were bats present and without following European protected species guidelines.

He said: “European protected species guidelines are put in place for very good reason – to ensure that species are protected. Bellway Homes recklessly disregarded this when they arranged for the destruction of the building where the bats were roosting.

“By flouting the guidelines, they also avoided paying the costs associated with it. This will now have to be addressed as part of the sentence, and we will be applying to the court for costs to be repaid under proceeds of crime.”

He added: “These bats, and all bat species, their breeding sites and resting places are fully protected by law. Bellway Homes disregarded this when they pursued their development and now have to face the consequences of doing so”.

Earlier this year, Landrose Developments was issued an £18,000 fine for destroying a breeding site of soprano pipistrelle bats after demolishing a building where it knew the bats were roosting.

Another penalty was handed to Dorset man Iain Turner, who was fined £7,142 in October at Bournemouth Crown Court for destroying a bat roost.

Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

News from ENDS Europe

News from ENDS Waste & Bioenergy