EPS (BATS) habitats regulations licenses
Exemptions can be granted from the protection afforded to bats under the Habitats Regs, by means of licences. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has the authority (in England) to provide applicants with a licence for work that is likely to affect a European protected species. An ‘EPS Habitats Regulations Licence’ could be required for;
Further information on the application process can be obtained from the relevant department of the licensing authority, DEFRA, NAW, SERAD or DoE NI (link to below addresses).
There are three tests, which must all be satisfied, before a licence can be issued to permit otherwise prohibited acts:
(1) - Regulation 44(2)(e) states that licences may be granted to “preserve public health, or public safety or other imperative reason of overriding public interest including those of a social or economic nature, and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment”
A detailed application form is available from the licensing authority. Each application is determined on its merits. In order to meet the tests, the licensing authority will generally expect the planning position to be fully resolved. This is usually necessary in order to provide all the information required to determine whether there is any satisfactory alternative, and that the work is of overriding public interest.
If specific planning permission is not required from the Local Planning Authority (LPA) then the licence will be determined on the basis of the information supplied by the applicant. In these circumstances, the licensing authority will request that more detailed information is provided by a consultant licensed by the relevant SNCO.
To assist in considering the third test described in Regulation 44(3)(b) above, the licensing authority will seek advice from the SNCO. The role of the SNCO will be to assess whether it is satisfied that the action authorised will not be ‘detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range’. The applicant will need to provide a detailed proposal of all the mitigation work that they plan to carry out which will affect bats, and in some cases it may be necessary to provide some pre-mitigation. The requirements for these proposals are given in the annex of the licence application form. The SNCO will base their advice on whether the proposed mitigation or pre-mitigation work is sufficient to maintain the conservation status of the bat species concerned.
If an application for a licence is turned down this could mean that proceeding with work on site, even where planning permission has been granted, could be an offence.
Licensing Manager, Biodiversity Policy Unit
Department of Environment, (Northern Ireland) - DoE-NI
More information can be found in the Arboricultural Association Guidance Note - Trees and Bats, written by Andrew Cowan 2004. Download order form here