Bats and Planning Regulations by Angela Wilkes

Following a Judicial Review, the law relating to disturbance of bat (European Protected Species) roosts has been strengthened. It is now necessary for a bat survey to be undertaken BEFORE any planning application or works are proposed.

This applies to:

(1) Any proposed development which includes the modification, conversion, demolition or removal of buildings or structures (especially roof voids) involving

- All buildings with weather-boarding and/or hanging tiles that are within 200m of woodland or water

- pre-1960 detached buildings and structures within 200m of woodland or water

- pre-1914 buildings within 400m of woodland or water

- pre-1914 buildings with gable ends or slate roofs, regardless of location

- all developments affecting buildings, structures or other features where bats are known to be present

(2) Proposals affecting or near woodland, hedgerows and lines of trees

(3) Proposed tree work (felling,lopping) and/or development affecting old and veteran trees.

On the subject of Bats in Dulwich, it has become apparent that clear-felling and lopping of mature trees in the dark corridor in Belair Park and along the adjacent railway embankment has had a detrimental effect upon foraging bats in the area - a recent walk at which recordings were taken has shown a loss of Noctules and their replacement by the more disturbance- and light pollution-tolerant Leisner’s bats, a change noted by the Bat Conservation Trust.

Recent break-ins (for “raves”) inside the old railway tunnel in Sydenham Hill Woods (mistakenly considered by police to have been merely trespass rather than law-breaking offences) have caused harmful disturbance in this important mass hibernation roost.

The Wildlife Committee decided that (apart from installing some warning signage) it would be of value if the committee’s wildlife updates and records all info on local flora and fauna (including the results of bat, butterfly and plant surveys commissioned by the Dulwich Society and those bird sightings already contributing to the British Trust for Ornithology’s UK Bird Atlas) are submitted to the GIGL(Greenspace Information for Greater London) biodiversity data bank. This would ensure that Dulwich could effectively monitor its plant and wildlife populations and help guard against illegal acts that could destroy or damage them. (This will collate and efficiently store, in a detailed grid-referenced system, all the information we gather). On the subject of Bats, the Committee is delighted that the Dulwich Estate is to place Bat boxes around the Millpond.

The Committee is negotiating a timetable for putting the swift nest boxes up in Dulwich Park. Parks Manager Paul Highman is keen to install them on both Lodges once building repair works go ahead.