1 February 2013
Licensed bat surveyors will no longer be driven batty by paperwork, as Natural England unveils a new series of licences designed to reduce administrative burdens.
The new licences will also allow Natural England to focus more time and resource on high-risk casework for major developments.
The move - which forms part of Natural England’s ongoing commitment to simplifying and improving the regulatory system - has involved wide consultation with stakeholders to ensure that the best possible service is provided.
The bat class licences represent a ‘middle way’ between individual licences - which are judged on a case by case basis - and general licences, which can be used by a wide range of people and have standard sets of terms. Under the new system, surveyors or Volunteer Bat Roost Visitors will only need to register once, after which their licence will automatically renew each year – once they have submitted their licence return (or notified us that they wish to remain registered). Annual reports form a vital part of many of the class licences and they must be returned as a condition of the licence, to help us meet reporting requirements to Europe.
In order to simplify the process for users, the new class licences are separated into two areas and clearly set out exactly what each licence permits, helping licence holders to act within the law. Conservation licences will be used chiefly by registered Volunteer Bat Roost Visitors undertaking official duties under Natural England’s Bat Advice contract and survey licences will be used for science, education, and research purposes.
A class licence for registered ecological consultants, allowing disturbance and damage or destruction of bat roosts of low conservation significance in certain situations is also being developed. A trial of this licence will take place before it is rolled out more widely.