If a contractor or company, authorises or completes work on a tree or structure, which has roosting potential, or is informed that bats have been seen around the tree or building, but continues with the work anyway without taking advice from an appropriate consultant or organisation (SNCO), and bats are disturbed or a roost site is damaged or destroyed, then an offence may have been committed. A person, company or organisation may be held reckless if; they deliberately took an unacceptable risk (recognised the risk but took it anyway) or, they failed to notice or consider an obvious risk (did not consider whether there was a risk) ….and as a result of this disturbance, destruction or obstruction etc. occurred.
It is worth noting that the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 allows a police officer, with reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence has been committed, to enter land other than a dwelling. Amendments made under the CRoW Act 2000 (Schedule 12, paragraph13) makes offences under Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 arrestable.
Under both the Regulations and the Act there is corporate liability, meaning that a Managing Director could be liable for prosecution for the actions of staff following instructions.
Section 21 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 sets fines. For Section 9 offences the fine can be up to £5,000.00. If more than one bat (or other thing) is involved, the fine can be up to £5,000.00 per bat or thing. On conviction the forfeiture of any bat or other thing by the court is mandatory, and items used to commit the offence (e.g. vehicles) may be forfeited. The CRoW Act amends this (in England and Wales only) so that for Section 9 offences the fine is £5,000.00 and/or a period of imprisonment of up to six months.
More information can be found in the Arboricultural Association Guidance Note - Trees and Bats, written by Andrew Cowan 2004. Download order form here
For more information e-mail: email@example.com
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