Bats and Churches Partnership 
Latest Developments: February 2017 

Bats in Churches Partnership project - updated February 2017 

We are very pleased to announce that the Heritage Lottery fund have approved the development stage and the initial funding for the Bats in Churches Partnership project. 
 
This is such a fantastic outcome for people and communities, church buildings and bats and we are looking forward to getting the project underway. The entire project will run in two phases: a 13 month development phase completing in March 2018 followed by a five-year delivery phase running until 2023. This result means we can now start work on the development phase of the project. Eventually there will be a dedicated project website but in the meantime, we will keep this website updated with the latest information. 
 
Summary of the Bats in churches HLF project 
Historic churches and bat populations of high conservation significance will be better conserved and communities strengthened, now and into the future. We will promote better understanding of built and natural heritage and a more harmonious relationship between people and bats. 
We have applied for £3.8 million of funding from HLF which, together with additional match funding and in-kind contributions from the partners, will be used to help mitigate the impact of bats on historic church buildings, whilst ensuring the future of the bat colonies involved. 
The main partners in this project are: Natural England, Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England, Historic England, Bat Conservation Trust and Churches Conservation Trust. 
 
The project aims to help: 
 
Built and cultural heritage: Churches are often wonderful buildings with very sensitive interiors including fixtures, artwork and monuments that, in some situations, can suffer irreparable damage from bat urine and droppings. This project seeks to protect the historic fabric and heritage value of the buildings. 
 
People and Communities: Where large and unmanageable colonies of bats are present, congregations can find it difficult to clean churches sufficiently for them to remain in active use. Trying to do so can be demoralising and a strain on resources. Congregations may be put off from attending and in exceptional cases worship and other community activities are not possible. This project seeks to strengthen and support communities looking after churches and bats. 
 
Bats: The large breeding bat colonies found in some churches can be of international importance and recent studies have shown that many such populations are highly dependent on the churches in which they roost. Loss of woodland and the conversion of barns and other traditional buildings used by bats may have added to the pressure on churches as the only available roosting sites. This project seeks to safeguard the future of bat colonies in churches whilst reducing their impact. 
 
What will the project do? 
 
1. Develop and put in place solutions to help churches with bats 
Research has shown us new ways to tackle the problems in the some of the most severely affected churches. These new methods will be implemented where appropriate and others tested and optimised. Knowledge and best practice generated from this work will then be used to offer solutions in many more churches with bats in the future. 
 
A top priority is to ensure the learning and best practice from the first group of churches involved in the project is widely shared with other churches that have lower levels of impact from bat colonies but still have problems. We will set up a network of highly-trained specialist volunteers who will be able to share this new technical knowledge and offer practical help through a series of local co-operative groups to maximise the impact of the project and ensure that there is on-going local mutual support. 
 
2. Build expert capacity 
Currently, there are very few professionals or volunteers with the skills to undertake this work. The project will identify specific people who will be trained, so they have specialist understanding of the sensitivity of historic fabric and community use of churches as well as the management of bats in churches, to build expert capacity nationally. 
 
A national network of bat conservation volunteers will be established at the start of the project to provide technical advice and guidance to church communities. This will include practical support with the implementation of bat conservation measures and wider community outreach work. The volunteer network will also have support from and access to a range of technical specialist expertise. This will make it easier for the volunteers who care for churches to get high quality advice in a timely manner when they need help. 
 
3. Collect data 
For the first time an ongoing national ‘Bats in Churches’ survey will be established, with data being collected by volunteers. We will find out just how bats use churches in England and create a database to share information with partners (including via Church Heritage Record and other key datasets). Data from this survey and the wider project will provide crucial evidence to inform the project’s ongoing legacy work, identifying where support for churches with bats is most needed. 
 
4. Engage people and communities 
Communities who care for and value churches and bats are a vital part of the solution. Project Engagement Officers will work to bring them together and create local champions, with a shared understanding of the challenges and ownership of the solutions. 
 
5. Provide better on-line advice 
Improved guidance will become available online via a dedicated website, enabling a streamlined approach to repairs or building works. This online service will continue to be enhanced and supported beyond the life of the project. 
 
6. Share knowledge with other historic building owners 
The techniques used in this project will have wider uses for other organisations and other historic buildings, such as The National Trust. We will work with these heritage groups from the outset. 
 

Bats in Churches Class Licence 

The problems presented by large bat populations roosting and breeding in churches are unique. On one hand, churches are precious places of historic, cultural and religious importance that are treasured by the communities and that use and enjoy them. On the other, bats are rare and fascinating flying mammals that enjoy strong legal protection due to massive historic population declines. Protecting these bat populations while ensuring their impacts upon churches is minimised is a particular challenge. 
 
This is why a dedicated Bats in Churches Class licence is currently being developed. This new licence is being designed for use in churches where large bat populations are causing unacceptably high levels of damage to church fabric and monuments and disruption to congregations. It will enable highly skilled professional ecologists to work with those who care for churches to plan and then implement work to reduce the impacts being caused while facilitating the best outcomes for bats and for the buildings in which they live. 
 
Further information about this licence including; when it will be finished, who will be eligible to use it and how it will be rolled out, will be shared with stakeholders in the coming months. 

Bats in Churches – National Stakeholder Workshop, Coventry – 13th May 2016 

This event was hosted by Natural England, Historic England, The Church of England, the Bat Conservation Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust. 
 
This was a consultation event to seek views from those involved with the bats and churches issue. Those with expertise, interest, or experience of living with bats in churches were invited to attend. 
 
The aims of the event were to: 
 
• Inform church, bat and heritage sectors about new developments in our understanding of the management of bats in churches and the tools being developed to help with this issue. 
• Explain the status of the Natural England, Historic England, Bat Conservation Trust, Church of England and Churches Conservation Trust application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and what it hopes to achieve. 
• Provide an opportunity for consultation with stakeholders about the future of the HLF project and their understanding about the bats in churches issue. 
 
The information available on the website includes: 
 
• video recordings of the presentations made on the day 
• a transcript of the presentations, including a record of questions and answers 
• a summary of the feedback and evaluation we obtained from the feedback forms 
• a summary of the facilitated table sessions 
• links to further resources and documents considered to be helpful 
 
For further information on the workshop or the bats in churches issue more widely, please email: bats.churches@naturalengland.org.uk 
Child and bat misericord at Dundblane (photo by Anne Youngman)

Bats in Churches – National Stakeholder Workshop – presentations 

Sir Tony Baldry – Chair, Church Buildings Council 
Church of England perspective on the issues: communities and worship 
The Church Buildings Council is a statutory body which gives advice and guidance to dioceses and parishes on the upkeep of 16,000 parish churches, of which it is estimated that at least 6,500 have bats. Bats can cause damage to historic fabric and impact on services and community use of churches, and small congregations at some churches spend hours each week cleaning up after bats. Sir Tony asks how can bats be managed in churches to suit the needs of congregations, historic environment professionals and bat conservationists. 
To watch CLICK HERE 
 
Professor Gareth Jones – Bristol University 
Research results and development of approaches 
This talk, presented by David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation, National Trust, presents evidence gathered by Professor Gareth Jones and colleagues at Bristol University about new mitigation methods which might help reduce the impact of bats on churches while causing minimum disturbance to both congregations and bats. 
To watch CLICK HERE 
 
Amanda Craig – Operations Director (North), Natural England 
Natural England perspective on the issues: bats and conservation 
As the statutory nature conservation body for England, Natural England recognises and appreciates the enormous challenges that bats raise in churches. This presentation highlights the need for greater partnership working on this issue and sets out how the organisation is changing its approach to licensing with a focus on outcomes rather than process. 
To watch CLICK HERE 
 
Deborah Lamb – Director of Engagement, Historic England 
Historic England perspective on the issues: people and places 
Historic England is the public body that looks after England’s historic environment and has played a key role in funding one of the important research studies on bats in churches. In this presentation, Deborah Lamb highlights the need for new management methods to reduce the burden of sharing churches with bats so that churches can be cared for and preserved. 
To watch CLICK HERE 
 
Julia Hanmer – Joint Chief Executive, Bat Conservation Trust 
Bat Conservation Trust perspective on the issues: bats and people 
The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is the leading Non-Government Organisation solely devoted to the conservation of bats. They recognise that the relationship between bats and people is key. Here, Julia Hanmer tells us how bat populations have suffered huge historic declines and though recovering slowly, are still very sensitive to changes in the environment and that churches play an important role in their conservation. BCT recognises that some churches with large bat roosts experience severe problems and are committed to working in partnership to solve these. 
To watch CLICK HERE 
 
Tim Allen – Inspector of Ancient Monuments, East Midlands, Historic England 
Case study 1 – impact on fabric and solutions: St Nicholas, Stanford-on-Avon 
Historic England has been working with St Nicholas’ Church, Stanford on Avon for several years, to find a way forward with the bats issues being faced in this Grade I listed church. Tim explains the approaches that have been taken here and describes the current trial to remove bats from the interior of the church altogether. 
To watch CLICK HERE 
 
Philip Parker – Consultant Ecologist, Philip Parker Associates 
Case study 2 – impact on communities and solutions: East of England cases 
Philip Parker has surveyed 193 medieval churches out of almost 700 in Norfolk and every one of these has shown evidence of bat use. Philip tells us about the patterns of bat use in Norfolk and describes some of the community based activities he has been part of to bring people and bats closer together. 
To watch CLICK HERE 
 
Denise Foster – Bats and Swifts HLF Project, Herefordshire 
Case study 3 – impact on ecology and solutions: Herefordshire cases 
The Herefordshire Bats and Swifts in Churches project has been running since 2014. The project works with local churches with bats and promotes the use of volunteer bat workers and training to ensure groups are better informed about this issue. 
To watch CLICK HER E 
 
Stephen Rudd – Senior Adviser, Natural England 
Bats in Churches project: what next? 
Stephen Rudd talks about a recent bid to Heritage Lottery Fund for the Bats in Places of Worship project. The aim of this national project was to roll out and further develop solutions to the problems presented by bats in churches, to engage communities and promote learning and sharing of experience. Also presented is the Bats in Churches Class Licence, a new type of licence designed to make it easier for experienced professionals to manage the impacts of bats in historic buildings. 
To watch CLICK HERE 

Workshop outputs: 

Bats in Churches Workshop sessions Please follow this LINK to download a summary of feedback from the table based workshop sessions. 
 
For a transcript of the presentations and of the Q&A sessions, click HERE. 
 
Evaluation – click HERE for a summary of the evaluation gathered from the feedback form. 
 
Further information: 
 
Historic England guidance on cleaning 
Please click on this LINK for the Historic England guidance document on cleaning churches with bats. 
 
What happens in church buildings when they are not being used for worship? 
Churches can be open throughout the week for a wide range of community uses in addition to worship. Please click on the following National Churches Trust LINK for details of several church buildings that are being used for a wide range of activities. Please also explore the linked webpages to the shortlisted candidates as this includes a number of interesting case studies. 
 
Bats in Churches Class Licence 
An information note on the bats in churches class licence will be circulated to all attendees of the workshop and wider stakeholders before the end of July 2016 
 
Bat Helpline for churches 
Churches in England are eligible for free bat advice provided by Natural England through the Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228. This advice, which can include a free visit by a trained volunteer, can be obtained in the following instances: 
 
• Bats are causing a nuisance inside the church 
• Renovation or small scale building work is planned 
• Grounded bats are found 
 
Guidance on handling bats 
Please click on this link for guidance on what to do if you find a grounded bat in a church http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/containingabat.html 
You should avoid handling the bat, but if it is necessary WEAR GLOVES due to the small risk from a rabies type virus. For further information please click here: http://bit.ly/28XoqXv 
 
Local bat group contacts 
To find your local bat group follow this link: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/local_bat_groups.html 
 
How are UK bat populations doing? See the National Bat Monitoring Programme report here: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/nbmp_annual_report.html 
 
Bats in Churches Workshop sessions Please follow this LINK to download a summary of feedback from the table based workshop sessions. 
Next steps: 
 
If you have not already received an email update from the bats.churches@naturalengland.org.uk email address and would like to be included on all future emails news and updates emails, please contact us on bats.churches@naturalengland.org.uk 
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