Protecting endangered bats
Our work to protect endangered bats at Halecombe quarry, Somerset, is dramatically boosting their numbers.
In 2008, we found lesser horseshoe bats roosting in Rookery Farmhouse, a 17th century, Grade II listed property at our Halecombe quarry site, near Leigh-on-Mendip in Somerset. As bats are protected by European law, their presence meant that plans to renovate the house had to be changed.
Together with Mendip Council, Natural England and English Heritage, Tarmac commissioned the building of a temporary roost near the farmhouse while renovation work took place. Once construction was completed in June 2009, we carefully monitored the bat population to see if it remained stable or increased. When the farmhouse renovation was finished, complete with compartments in the roof void, we kept the temporary roost to encourage more bats to the site.
A survey by Consultant Ecologist Henry Andrews showed that the temporary bat shed increased the number of lesser horseshoe bats, and our protection measures also encouraged a thriving brown long-eared bat colony to return to the farmhouse. Most of the 21 lesser horseshoe bats roosting in the bat shed returned to the original farmhouse, while one male and three females now occupy the shed, showing it has become a mating roost.
Halecombe Quarry demonstrates our commitment to enhancing biodiversity as well as ensuring the safety and welfare of the bats. The project’s success is evident: eight out of the 15 bat species present in Somerset now visit the site, of which three species roost there. In addition to the lesser horseshoe bat and the brown long-eared bat, Andrews recorded six other species: Serotine bat, Natterer’s bat, Noctule bat, common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, greater horseshoe bat.
Daniel Brailsford, zone manager at Halecombe quarry, said Tarmac was keen to ensure everything was done properly to protect the bats. “We didn’t want to rush the project or do anything to jeopardise the welfare of the bats. We wanted to get this right from a conservation point of view and Henry’s expertise ensured that the bats could both survive and thrive at Halecombe.”