Protected Bats Make Way for Commercial Developments

Nature must sometimes make way for human needs, as was clearly illustrated by a Court of Appeal case in which business-friendly developments in an economically deprived area were given the green light despite concerns for the habitat of protected bats.

The local authority had granted planning consents in respect of two sites for office and commercial buildings measuring almost 13,000 square metres. The permissions were part of a regeneration project for the area and it was envisaged that further consents would be granted in the future, including for a spine road to link the sites.

The area was home to nationally important colonies of lesser horseshoe bats and, in challenging the consents, campaigners argued that the impact on their welfare had not been adequately considered. Their arguments were, however, rejected by the High Court, which upheld the planning permissions as lawful.

In dismissing their appeal, the Court of Appeal found that local planners had been entitled to consider the two sites in isolation from the wider regeneration project. Neither of the permissions posed a threat to the bats and adequate measures to protect them could be included in future planning consents. In the circumstances, the council had been entitled to take a staged approach to individual projects as they were brought forward.