a Healey Dell millpond at dusk
Late last year the Greater Manchester Bat group took Save Spodden Valley campaigners for a bat walk bedside the River Spodden.
The Spodden Valley has significant numbers of bats. Great concerns were expressed when woodlands were destroyed surrounding the former asbestos factory in May 2004.
On Woodlands Rd, adjoining the Healey Dell nature reserve, the broadleaf trees formed a 'tunnel' of woodland cover above the road. At evening times, bats were a common sight catching small flying insects. There were older oak trees in the woodland with holes and crevices that were used by nesting birds and bats.
Photographs of the damage done to the woodlands by the developers can be seen at:
The Save Spodden Valley website has collected some information about Bats and wildlife crime:
What can you do to protect bats?
All species of bats and their habitats are protected in law. If you have information about bats or their roosts being disturbed or destroyed in the Spodden Valley contact Steve Parker by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . The South Lancashire Bat Group’s website can be viewed at: www.slbg.org.uk
For national enquires, contact the Conservation Trust on 0845 1300 228.
Much of the Spodden Valley is now protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)
This means that trees used as bat feeding areas have additional legal protection.
All species of bats are protected by law – here is a quick guide:
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) protects bats and their roosts in the Spodden Valley. Recently, the WCA 1981 has been strengthened by into UK law what is better known as the Habitats Directive. All bats are listed as 'European protected species of animals'.
the implementation of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CroW 2000)
The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 implements It is an offence for any person in the Spodden Valley to:
- Intentionally kill, injure or take a bat. Under the Habitats Regulations it is an offence to deliberately capture or kill a bat.
- Possess or control a live or dead bat, any part of a bat, or anything derived from a bat. This is an offence of strict liability, (this means the person in possession of the bat has to show, on a balance of probabilities, that they have it lawfully. An offence is not committed if the bat was not killed, taken, or sold to them or anyone else illegally.
- Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place that a bat uses for shelter or protection The Court’s have interpreted this to protect all bat roosts whether bats are present or not. Prior to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, there was a defence in law if somebody was reckless in their actions that harmed bats- this defence is no longer available.
- Under the Habitats Regulations it is an offence to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of any bat. This is an absolute offence – this means that, intent or recklessness does not have to be proved.
- Set and use articles capable of catching, injuring or killing a bat (such as a trap or poison), or knowingly cause or permit such an action. This includes sticky traps intended for animals other than bats.
- Make a false statement in order to obtain a licence for bat work.
- Possess articles capable of being used to commit an offence, or to attempt to commit an offence. These are punishable in a like manner as for the actual offence.
Police and court powers
A police officer who suspects with reasonable cause that a person is committing or has committed an offence can stop and search them, search or examine any relevant thing in their possession, and seize it. They can also enter land other than a dwelling house without a warrant, or enter and search a dwelling house (with or without other persons) with a warrant. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 defines bat offences as “arrestable”.
The potential fine for each offence is £5,000 per bat. In England and Wales an offender can also be imprisoned for six months.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act requires Local Authorities to inform the public and especially schoolchildren about wildlife protection law. The Act also gives Local Authorities the power to take prosecutions in its area.