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;

  • engineering work like bridge building or repair,
  • road building or widening
  • woodland operations like thinning or clear felling
  • demolition of a building prior to development of a site
  • tree felling during site clearance work
  • tree pruning and felling in residential gardens and parks
  • and any work that could obstruct, damage or destroy a bat roost

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”
(2) - Regulation 44(3)(a) states that a licence may not be granted unless the licensing authority is satisfied that “there is no satisfactory alternative”
(3) - Regulation 44(3)(b) states that a licence cannot be issued unless the licensing authority (DEFRA in England) is satisfied that the action proposed ‘will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range.’

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.

Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Licensing Manager, Biodiversity Policy Unit
DEFRA, Zone 1/10b
European Wildlife Division, Temple Quay House
Room 1/08, 2 The Quay
Temple Quay House, Temple Quay
2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6EB
Temple Quay, Tel 0117-342-8974
Bristol, BS1 6EB. Fax 0117-372-8182
0117-372-8291 e-mail: biodiversity.defra@gtnet.gov.uk

Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department
The Scottish Executive
Room 440
Pentland House
47 Robbs Loan
Edinburgh EH14 1TY Tel: 0131 244 6023 : ceu@scotland.gov.uk

National Assembly for Wales
Cathays Park
Cardiff CF10 3NQ 029-2082-5111

Department of Environment, (Northern Ireland) - DoE-NI
Environment and Heritage Service
Commonwelth House
35 Castle Street
Belfast BT1 1GU Tel 02890-251-477

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