Bats and WHSAP

Nine species of bats have been identified in the park, among them members of the UK’s rare, internationally important population of Bechstein’s bats that roost in Green Lane Wood.

Bechstein’s are the bats, protected by a European Habitat Directive, that upset Wiltshire’s original housing plan: the one that relied on the building of 2,600 houses at Ashton Park by 2026.

All kinds of changes had to be made to accommodate the bats and the plan fell short by 900 houses; hence the allocation of the new sites, among them Church Lane, Upper Studley and Southwick Court, all of which we believe pose a threat to Lambrok Stream.

A resident in Church Lane, admittedly operating only with a bat detector app on his phone, says he has identified thirteen species of bats over and around the Church Lane site. As there are only eighteen species of bats resident in the UK, this seems unlikely but it may indicate a new area of activity: perhaps previously unidentified roosts.

The Countryside Team has begun surveying the old oak trees in the park for signs of bat roosts and FoSCP has contacted the Wiltshire Bat Group.

Wiltshire Council has ordered up a Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy (TBMS), which is under preparation by an unnamed consultancy. The Council doesn’t expect the strategy to be ready before the Wiltshire Housing Site Allocation Plan is examined in public by the Secretary of State’s Inspector, some time this winter; they are confident though, that:

the strategy will be sufficiently advanced during the examination to allow the Council to demonstrate that the plan is sound and will have no adverse effects on the SAC.

The SAC referred to is the Bath & Bradford on Avon Bat Special Area of Conservation: a fearsome little piece of legislation from Defra that protects core bat roosts and areas surrounding them. It is an on-going work, ever responsive to new discoveries about the life cycles and environmental needs of protected species.

While new bat activity is being investigated in the park and Church Lane, it is difficult to see how Wiltshire Council can be confident that their Site Allocation Plan will meet the demands of a mitigation strategy that has not yet been written.

 Header picture: Bechstein’s bat by Dietmar Nill (CC2.5)

Tree-climbing pictures by Rich M

Others as attributed
More about development and SCP:
studley snip 3


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