Since late 2017, CIEEM has been working with Natural England and the Bat Conservation Trust on a new transformative approach to licensing survey and mitigation work in England that impacts on bats.
Applications for licences involving bats and bat roosts are by far the highest proportion of licence applications received by Natural England and numbers are increasing year on year. The vast majority are low risk situations but they still need to be licensed which requires time, effort and cost on the part of the developer, the consultant and Natural England. This leaves little resource left over for monitoring and enforcement and even less for drawing together the evidence base for the effectiveness of mitigation. Natural England’s resources to put into licensing are over-stretched and a more effective approach would have benefits for everyone.
If implemented, Earned Recognition will work on the basis of assessing a consultant’s competence in undertaking survey work and designing effective mitigation so that, by using an accredited consultant, developers can experience a much lighter licensing process for their scheme or project. The competency requirements for consultants are being defined on the basis of selected elements of our Competency Framework (but with a bats emphasis) with the indicators of competence mapped across to BCT’s Professional Training Standards. There will be different competency profiles based on the degree of risk to bats and bat roosts (which is being identified by a combination of the rarity of the species involved, the complexity of the site and the significance of the impact).
Natural England undertook a stakeholder consultation exercise earlier in the project lifecycle and will be consulting further later in 2019. Work is still going on to finalise the competencies and the assessment processes that will be required but it is hoped to run a pilot for the scheme in 2019.