Mitigating the Effect of Development on Bats in England with Derogation Licensing

Emma Stone, Gareth Jones, Stephen Harris

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17 Citations (SciVal)


The Convention on Biological Diversity has catalyzed worldwide awareness of threats to biological diversity and stimulated global conservation strategies. These have led to national and international legislation and have generated debate about the most effective conservation actions. Under the EU Habitats Directive, all member states are obliged to establish a system for strict protection of species listed in Annex IV(a), which includes all bats. In England, this obligation has resulted in legislation that allows for derogation from strict protection under license, provided activities are undertaken to mitigate any potential negative effects on bat numbers. We used an evidence-based approach to assess the cost-effectiveness of mitigation strategies and the English bat-derogation licensing process as a whole. We analyzed data from 389 bat derogation licenses issued in England from 2003 to 2005 relating to 1776 roosts and 15 species to determine the nature and extent of development and mitigation activities and their effects on bats. Overall the effects of licensed activities on roosts were negative. Despite the level of protection afforded to bats, the majority (68%) of roosts for which derogation licenses were issued were destroyed. There were species-specific differences in the probability of roosts being destroyed, and impacts on roosts did not reflect a species’ conservation status. Information provided by licensees was inadequate and inconsistent. Most licensees (67%) failed to submit postdevelopment reports, and postdevelopment monitoring was conducted at only 19% of sites. Despite a minimum of £4.13 million spent on mitigation structures for bats from 2003 to 2005, it was unclear whether the licensing process meets EU obligations. On the basis of our results, we believe there is a need to overhaul the licensing process, to establish a comprehensive, standardized postdevelopment monitoring system, and to demonstrate that mitigation is commensurate with Britain's legal obligations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1324-1334
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number6
Early online date20 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2013


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