Property development company fined £20,000 for destroying bat habitat

A property development company has been ordered to pay £20,000 for destroying bat habitats in Kent.

Following allegations that bat roosts and resting places were unlawfully lost in 2016 during demolition works, the Kent Police Rural Task Force carried out an investigation.

Knightspur Homes commissioned a series of surveys on their site in Edenbridge which showed substantial bat activity, with buildings being used as resting places and breeding roosts for multiple bat species. The surveys were included in the planning application for the site. The work required a European Protected Species Mitigation Licence, which is issued by Natural England. The licence is necessary where demolition or renovation will disturb, destroy or remove bat roosts.

However, in August 2016 one of the buildings identified in the survey as containing roosting bats was demolished without any application for a mitigation licence.

Knightspur Homes pleaded guilty to three counts of damaging or destroying bat habitats. They were fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,036. The company was also ordered to pay an additional £5,285 following a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This amount was deemed by the courts to reflect what Knightspur Homes had benefited from by not carrying out the correct legal processes and checks during demolition works.

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