To ask the right hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what (a) policy changes and (b) steps the Church of England is taking in relation to the 2019 survey of bats in churches undertaken with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund,
28 February 2020
The £3.8m funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund that was secured in 2018, enabled not just one survey, but a five-year Bats in Churches partnership project made up of the Church of England, Natural England, Historic England, the Bat Conservation Trust, and the Churches Conservation Trust.
The project is working with ecologists, church architects, heritage experts and church communities to support and develop bespoke solutions for around 120 churches struggling with unsustainable bat roosts across the country. Churches that are part of the project are continuously monitored to ensure there is no damage to the bat populations. Additionally, a nationwide volunteer-led four-year survey, the ‘Bats in Churches Study’ is to be launched this summer and will give an in-depth picture of how bats are using Church of England churches and the attitudes of churchgoers towards them.
The Bats in Churches project is now in its second year and can report the delivery of three successful mitigation works in some of the worst affected churches, in Braunston-in-Rutland, Tattershall and Swanton Morley. These three schemes have enabled congregations and the wider community to co-exist harmoniously alongside the bats and for church heritage to be respected.
Other projects nearing completion include:
- St Pega’s Church Peakirk, following a lead theft that has enabled bat mitigation to be incorporated into the re-roofing repair work.
- St John the Baptist Church in Cold Overton is similarly incorporating bat mitigation into its repairs.
Support for churches sheltering bats is available from the Bats in Churches project who are running events to build networks of volunteers, links to bat and heritage groups and specialist cleaning workshops and advice.