John Black/Bat Conservation Trust
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New cash to help belfry bats and churches coexist

Thu 09 Feb 2017
By Alex Williams

New funding looks set to help congregations at 100 churches across the country where bats have been causing problems, such as disturbing outreach activities and damaging historic artefacts.

Heritage, wildlife and church organisations are working together to find solutions to issues such as bat droppings and hygiene concerns, under a new "bats in churches" project.

Sir Tony Baldry, chairman of the Church Buildings Council, told Premier: "The difficulty with bats is that, as more field barns have disappeared, bats just see churches as like being a field barn.

"Increasingly, bats are roosting in churches and can do an enormous amount of damage. Bat urine [and] bat faeces are not much fun.

"What we're trying to do is to work out with Natural England how one can actually influence the behaviour of bat colonies within churches so that they can roost in areas where they do the least damage."

 

Launched with the help of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) money totalling £5 million, it will promote solutions such as special boxes where bats can roost without causing damage.

The HLF says the project will also help nurture bat populations, which have historically been in decline because of the reductions in woodlands and changes in farming practices.

Andrew Sells, the chairman of Natural England, who is also involved in "bats in churches", said: "This is a splendid result for both congregations and bats, who have shared churches for centuries but not always happily.

"We've been working very hard for a number of years with our partners to find ways to help bats and people coexist peacefully in these beautiful, historic buildings.

"This funding will allow us to capitalise on that good work and find innovative new ways of resolving the conflict."

The project will promote other solutions in churches, such as using ultrasonic emitting devices to deter bats from particular areas of churches.

Bats have been legally protected in the UK since 1981.

Click here to listen to Sir Tony Baldry speaking with Premier's Alex Williams:

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