Rare bats in Holt as part of tannery development


RARE bats living on a historic tannery site are helped to thrive after receiving a new home as part of its redevelopment.

The stone buildings at the 250-year-old J&T Beaven site in Holt are being converted into 100 workspaces and 44 new homes.

Ecology specialist Engain worked with the developers to ensure that bats, as well as slow worms, toads, snakes and swallows, are protected from the work.

Matt Davies, Ecology Manager at Engain, was part of the team looking after the bat colony, which includes larger and smaller horseshoes. “There is a significant national population of horseshoe bats in and around Bath and Bradford on Avon where the old mines and quarries are located which have become a real stronghold for them,” he said. “But bats roost elsewhere and Holt’s bats are part of that very large population.

His team worked alongside developers Stonewood to design the buildings and the landscape around them. “We had to figure out how we can get the bats back into the completed development in a way that is in keeping with how the development is going to be used,” he said.

“Bats need undisturbed places that won’t be lit by artificial lighting. In some cases you want to keep the lodges in the same places and in others you give them elsewhere. ”

In addition to horseshoes, the colony includes common pipistrelles, natterers, and long-eared brown bats.

“Holt is a good place for bats, it is warm and balmy and there is a lot of food around. They eat insects but they all have pretty specific dietary needs at different times of the year depending on what they’re doing, whether they’re pregnant or feeding their young, this can vary from tiny little butterflies you can to. hardly see with the naked eye to big. Maybugs. ”

Work has been planned around the bat hibernation and maternity seasons to minimize disturbance. “In some cases, we watched the bats leave, sealed the dormitories so they couldn’t get into the building and resume work. It’s not an exact science, but experience suggests they will come back, ”Davies said.

Dozens of slow worms and grass snakes were carefully moved to a quieter corner at the edge of the site.

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