Wildlife Crime – Newport Company Fined for Demolishing Bat Roost

A building design and construction company has been fined £2,605 for illegally demolishing a building in Lliswerry, Newport, which was known to house protected Pipistrelle bats.

Christopher Davey, Director of Your Space Projects Limited, admitted to violating the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 at Newport Magistrates Court on January 9, 2024.

An independent ecological survey commissioned by Mr. Davey confirmed the presence of a bat roost at The Ferns, a former social club on Lliswerry Road. Pipistrelle bats are a priority species in the UK and Europe, protected under both UK and European wildlife laws. Because of the bats, demolishing the building required a European Protected Species License and appropriate mitigation measures.

In court, Mr. Davey explained that a communication breakdown between his company and their subcontractor led to the early demolition, preventing the planned toolbox talks with an ecologist that would have ensured the safety of any bats. This process was meant to protect any bats still in the building.

Judge Toms highlighted the company’s negligence, resulting in the loss of a bat day roost. The company was ordered to pay fines and costs totaling £2,605, taking into account the guilty plea.

PC Mark Powell, on secondment with the Natural Resources Wales Industry Regulation team, said, “Officers from Natural Resources Wales are collaborating effectively with police forces across Wales and the National Wildlife Crime Unit to investigate and prosecute those responsible for wildlife and rural crime offenses.”

He added, “The demolition of a confirmed bat roost without ecological oversight and the necessary license has affected the local bat population. Legislation exists to protect our diminishing native species. We welcome the sentence as a deterrent for future violations.”

Powell emphasized the importance of conservation, stating, “Protecting bats and other species is crucial for future generations. Bats are vital indicator species facing increasing challenges. This prosecution serves as a reminder to developers and workers to follow guidelines and ensure that construction work complies with the law. Multi-agency cooperation is at its peak, and together we will investigate and prosecute offenders.”