Researchers team up with National Grid to research most effective ways to protect UK's bats

Media Relations Team, 26 April 2021

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An engineer in orange uniform and reflective vest standing on the side of the road.

Researchers from the University of the West of England have partnered with National Grid to launch a unique project researching the most effective ways to mitigate construction impact on bats.

Bats are vital for maintaining the health of our ecosystems, yet mitigation work is often costly, time-consuming and its effectiveness is rarely tested.

The project will assess the effectiveness of bat flyway mitigation strategies and model bat habitat use within the North Somerset and Mendip Bats Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Mendip Limestone SAC. Findings will be applied on future major construction projects and used by local planning authorities across the UK.

PhD Project Lead Jack Hooker from UWE Bristol, said: “The focus of the project is on minimising the impacts of habitat fragmentation, where parts of a habitat are reduced and isolated, leaving behind smaller unconnected areas scattered across the landscape, which risks further loss of diversity and abundance of our wildlife.”

He added: “I want to come up with a fully-tested mitigation strategy that is cost efficient, time effective and easy to achieve, so that it’s a win-win for developers and the local wildlife.”

Between now and September, Jack will divide his time between the university and working on site monitoring bat flyways within the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Project Director for National Grid, James Goode says: “Bat populations have suffered from declining numbers over the last century. To counter this and to mitigate the impact of our work in the area, we are already working hard to provide dedicated places for bats to roost and flyways to help them navigate.”

He added: “We hope our partnership with UWE Bristol will help to transform ways of working in the construction industry and help to protect the UK’s vulnerable bat populations for years to come.”

The project is being supervised by leading UK bat experts, Dr Emma Stone and Dr Paul Lintott, who are specialists in the academic areas of wildlife and human conflict, and assessing mitigation techniques.

Dr Lintott said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us to work with industry to ensure our research produces timely and useful applied outcomes. This innovative project will therefore provide greatly enhanced confidence that future conservation strategies for bats are cost-effective, reliable and evidence-based.”

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