CIEEM is continuing to work in partnership with Natural England (NE) and the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) on the development of a new transformative approach to licensing mitigation work in England that impacts on bats. This approach is known as Earned Recognition and aims to (1) streamline licensing, (2) raise and maintain professional standards in bat mitigation work and (3) improve outcomes for bats.
Background – Why Bats?
Applications for licences involving bats and bat roosts are by far the highest proportion of mitigation licence applications received by NE and numbers are increasing year on year. The vast majority are lower risk situations but they still need to be licensed which requires time, effort and cost on the part of the developer, the consultant and NE. This reduces the resources available for monitoring, enforcement and drawing together the evidence base for the effectiveness of mitigation. NE’s resources to put into licensing are stretched and a more streamlined approach would have benefits for everyone.
We believe that an accreditation system will help to improve standards of bat mitigation and lead to better outcomes for bat conservation.
Earned Recognition (ER)
ER works on the basis of assessing and accrediting a consultant’s competence in undertaking survey work, and designing and implementing effective mitigation. Using an accredited consultant, developers can experience a more streamlined licensing process for their scheme or project.
There are different competency requirements based on the level of accreditation applied for, which relates to the degree of risk to bats from the projects that the accredited consultant will be able to work on. Quite simply, consultants who work on projects that involve higher risks to bats will require a higher level of accreditation that involves demonstrating a higher level of competence.
Update October 2023
Bat Earned Recognition (ER) moves from trial to ‘Business As Usual’
Bat ER has been through two phases of trial: The Pilot (2021/2022) and Beta (2023). This trial has resulted in 80 ER Consultants being accredited so far, with more candidates completing their assessments as the Beta accreditation phase reaches an end. To date, these ER Consultants have used the streamlined licence application system to submit over 530 Site Registrations. The Monitoring and Evaluation Report of the Bat ER Pilot was published in October 2022, followed by the recent addition of an Addendum to this report, updating the findings in light of a larger sample of site registrations. To date, the findings of this evaluation demonstrate clear support for the concept of Bat ER, although there is a need for improvements to the processes. Feedback shows that the site registration process saves time for both consultants and Natural England, and that ER Consultants are optimistic about the benefits Bat ER could continue to bring, with quicker decisions, increased certainty and increased flexibility. Beta phase has trialled some potential improvements to processes, and an evaluation report on this phase is due out in November 2023.
Following the benefits demonstrated by the trial phases, Bat ER is now being adopted as ‘Business As Usual’ by Natural England. This means that the Site Registration process will continue to be operated for a growing number of consultants, with investment in developing a new IT system to support this. Natural England is planning a further round of Accreditation in 2024. Lessons learnt from Beta phase are being used to make further improvements to the process. The Beta phase Accreditation was ambitious in its scale, and – while a large number of candidates were assessed – this took much longer than expected. Next year’s accreditation will be more realistic in the number of candidates that can be assessed within a time period. Natural England will share more details about the next round of accreditation in the coming months.
Natural England and its partners would like to thank all those that have contributed to the shaping of Bat ER, and very much look forward to continuing to welcome Bat ER Consultants to the benefits of the new approach.
If you wish to get in touch with the Partnership, please contact us via the NE Project Team’s mailbox EarnedRecognition.Bat@naturalengland.org.uk