‘Sense’ pledge over bats problem in old churches

The Government has promised a “common sense” approach to bat conservation following concerns raised by a Yorkshire MP that churches were being damaged by them.

Anne McIntosh, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, called for action yesterday in response to a colony of Natterer’s bats which have invaded an 11th century church in Ellerburn, near Pickering, soiling the building and driving out parishioners.

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“St Hilda’s Church in Thornton Dale parish is in the position where the bats are allowed to use the church but the congregation is not,” she said.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon said he was aware of this and told MPs wildlife legislation was being examined to make sure European directives were not being “gold-plated” in the way they were enacted.

He added the Government wanted to abide by the habitats directive but there had to be a common sense way forward.