Bats and the Law

Any building work that impacts on bats and their roosts is subject to UK and European law. This could include, for example, loft extensions, extensions, roof re-alignments, barn conversions and tree felling.

In England, Wales and Scotland bats and bat roosts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 extends the protection by making bat species offences a criminal offence, increasing the time limits for some prosecutions and increasing penalties.

UK legislation makes offences of:

  • Intentionally or deliberately killing, injuring or capturing (or taking) bats
  • Deliberately disturbing bats (whether in a roost or not)
  • Recklessly disturbing roosting bats or obstructing access to their roosts
  • Damaging or destroying roosts
  • Possessing or transporting a bat or any part of a bat, unless acquired legally
  • Selling (or offering for sale) or exchanging bats, or parts of bats

The UK has 18 species of bats (17 of which are known to breed in the UK). Bats roost in both modern and old buildings, in roof spaces, gaps in stonework, behind fascias or under slates and tiles. They have both summer and winter roosts and the law protects both these locations whether bats are present or not

UK bat species are endangered wildlife and are becoming increasingly rare. As such they are now fully protected by UK law.