Five-year plan to save churches from invading bats

A multi-million pound project will help the UK's protected bat population live in greater harmony with the historic churches that they seek a safe haven to roost in.

Roosting bats have caused irrepairable damage to some historically significant church monuments. Picture by National Trust/PA Wire.

Historically significant church monuments and memorials have been irreparably damaged due to the presence of bats, and with £3.8m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural England intends to address this.

Over the next five years, the government agency will work with wildlife, heritage conservation and church groups to protect both bats and the fabric of church buildings and yards.

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A loss of natural habitats is blamed for bats seeking refuge at churches, and with the UK’s bat population having suffered a serious historical decline, they are legally protected from being disturbed.

The Bats in Churches project aims to find practical solutions to allow 102 of the most severely impacted church communities to reduce the impact of bats, without harming them.

Volunteers will be trained to undertake bat surveys, ecologists and historic building specialists will learn new techniques to advise congregations and more than 700 churches across England will be surveyed.

Kit Stoner, chief executive of the Bat Conservation Trust, one of the partners in the scheme, said: “Protecting our natural and historical heritage will create a lasting legacy that will benefit present and future generations.”