Bats are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This means you’re not allowed to kill or remove a bat, or intentionally damage an area it uses as shelter. However, it can still be possible to convert your loft even if bats roost there.
It’s not always easy to tell if you have bats roosting in your loft.
They tend to be quiet during the day and hibernate between November and March. But particularly between May and October you may notice them flying around dusk as they go hunting.
They like large roof voids and those with lots of access points, particularly if they’re close to good foraging areas.
If you suspect you have bat lodgers
If you suspect bats are living in your loft, speak to your local planning authority about the way forward, as guidelines vary. For certain homes where bats are a 'reasonable likelihood', such as those immediately next to woodland or water, your local authority may ask for a bat survey to establish where they are roosting.
There are different types of surveys – preliminary and full – and they can only be done by a licensed professional. So make sure you check they have the relevant licence, or your local authority might refuse the survey.
You won’t always need a full bat survey, for example, if:
- your home is not on the list of buildings where bats are considered a 'reasonable likelihood'
- you’ve had a preliminary survey, and this found a low likelihood of bats
- your local authority says there’s no need for one
If you are sure bats are present and you want to convert your loft, you’ll need to get a mitigation licence, detailing how you intend to either conserve their space, e.g. leaving a void for them to roost in, or rehome them.
You will need to submit this to your local planning team with your planning permission application.
(N.B this is not information that building control will be concerned with.)
For more information, visit the Bat Conservation Trust.