Chris has been taking part in a Natural England trial of a fast-track licence scheme for developments that might affect bats : the so-called “Low Impact” class licence scheme.
The scheme reduces considerably the amount of paperwork required for submission, and also the response time from Natural England to three weeks. It is aimed at simple schemes involving low numbers of bats and no more than three species at a time.
We haven’t been able to use it very often as it doesn’t cover projects lasting beyond June, nor does it cover things like trees or winter roosts. Most clients have therefore opted for the certainty of a “full” European Protected Species licence. When we have though the results seem very promising in the simplifications.
The trial was due to finish at the end of June and it was hoped it would continue seamlessly into a full rollout from then onwards. Unfortunately due to a shortage of staff resources needed to take stock of how the trial went, it looks like there will be a delay .
The review and evaluation of findings should come out “soon” and Natural England are hoping to introduce a new licence for these low impact roosts, probably by the autumn.
We will let you know when we know more.