Bats at Grafham Grange
Back in April 2021, Natalie Evans, Senior Consultant at Arbtech Consulting Ltd visited our school to carry out an initial assessment of the lofts where she discovered a significant colony of bats roosting.
So that she could investigate how many bats were using the building and where they were coming and going from, she carried out a series of dusk emergence and dawn re-entry surveys over the summer last year. 60+ brown long eared bats were counted coming and going from the building.
This all confirmed her assessment that a maternity colony of brown long eared bats was present. This means that this group of female bats will gather at the school every year to have their babies, called pups.
Her job was to try and protect the bats in the loft while enabling the fire compartment works to go ahead. This involved submitting a European protected species mitigation licence application to Natural England. Only once this licence was granted could we legally start works to the lofts. Natalie also worked with RBS and the other contractors to find a solution, and decided to put special holes in the fire compartment doors that seal up in the case of fire, but are otherwise open for bats to fly through. She also put additional access points into the loft through bat adapted roof tiles, so that bats could escape if the holes closed in the event of a fire. Bat boxes were also installed in the woodland to give the bats somewhere to live in the winter.
On completion, Natalie checked the lofts and was very happy with the results. There is still a huge amount of space for the colony and all loft voids are still connected and functional as a bat roost. We expect the bats will start to return in the next couple of weeks, so they can settle into their slightly altered home before they give birth a bit later on in the spring/early summer.
Natalie will be back to monitor the roost in summer 2024 and 2026 and we hope she will be able to say that all bats are still present and happy with the changes!
If you would like to fond out more about why bats are important, please visit https://www.bats.org.uk/about-bats/why-bats-matter
Photo by Mark Hows