Protecting animals and plants

Information about finding a bat in your home, cutting bushes if birds are nesting, planting flowers in the wild, finding injured/sick wild animals, identifying wildlife and voicing concerns about building developments on wildlife.

What should I do if I find a bat in my home or property?

Bats are protected, so it is normally illegal to keep healthy, flying bats, and a licence is needed to handle them. However, you may need to deal with injured or roosting bats you have found in your home or property.

Injured bats

Anyone who finds a bat that is ill or injured may take care of it in whatever way is most humane and practical with the objective of its rehabilitation to the wild. There are a number of experienced bat rehabilitators in the UK, so in these circumstances please contact the Bat Helpline on (0845) 1300 228 for assistance who will be able to put you in touch with your nearest bat rehabilitator.

Bats are gentle creatures and seldom show any aggression but they are wild animals and may be frightened or in pain. You must take care not to be bitten so wear thick protective gloves and handle the bat as little as possible.

Roosting bats

Bats and their roosts are protected by law. As bats tend to return to the same roosts every year, the roosts are protected whether bats are present or not. Thus it is illegal to kill, injure or take a wild bat, or intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to a bat roost.

Building work to your property

Having bats in your roof does not mean building work, repairs or timber treatment cannot take place but you will need to contact Natural England for their free advice before you proceed.

Further information about bats

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) runs the National Bat Helpline, providing information to anyone needing advice on issues relating to bats.

You can contact them on:

Telephone: 0845 1300 228

The helpline is open from:

October-April (non-peak season) - Monday-Friday, 9am-5.30pm

May-September (peak season) - Monday-Friday, 9am-5.30pm*

*During May - September, an 'Out of Hours Helpline' is also available in the evenings and on weekends. Please note, the Out of Hours Helpline is run by volunteers and is for emergency calls only.

Can I cut down bushes/hedges if birds are nesting?

It is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. It will be an intentional act, for example, if you know there is an active nest in the hedge and still cut the hedge, damaging or destroying the nest in the process.

We recommend that cutting hedges and trees is avoided between March and August as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds.

RSPB - Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981- Section 1 (external website)

Can I plant flowers, bulbs or trees in the wild or in my village?

Generally yes, but only with landowner permission. However it is illegal to plant certain species of plants in the wild. These are listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and include montbretia, five species of cotoneaster and pond plants such as parrot’s feather and Australian stonecrop:

DEFRA (external website)

It is important to plant the right plants in the right places. In the right locations planting flowers and trees can make a colourful and attractive display. Care should be taken however in choosing what species to plant and especially where to plant them.

Many road verges in rural areas contain a rich variety of native wild flowers, as do other semi-natural grasslands and ancient woodlands. In these areas non-native species should not be planted.

Non-native species include species originating from other countries and also cultivated and commercial varieties. Common examples of these are cultivated daffodils and Spanish bluebells. Non-native species can often thrive in the wild and outcompete or hybridise with the native wild flowers, which can cause the loss of important local species. When choosing trees, shrubs and flowers for planting schemes try and use native species from a source of local provenance. These will not harm local biodiversity and can provide food, and breeding sites for local birds and other animals.

If you do wish to plant flowers in the wild, in a public place then a good first point of contact is to speak to your local parish or town council. If you wish to plant along a highway then you should contact the Highways helpline on (01482) 393939 for advice.

What should I do if I find an injured/sick wild animal?

If you find an injured or sick animal then the best thing to do is to call the RSPCA on (0300) 1234 999. Alternatively you can visit the RSPCA website for advice:

RSPB - Injured and sick animals (external websites)

How do I identify wildlife I see?

There is a wealth of information on wildlife identification on the internet and many identification books available to buy, or that can be borrowed from your local library.

It may be helpful to take a photograph for future reference or to show someone else if you are not sure; some wildlife is tricky to identify and often varies from the text book picture.

As part of Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), the Open University has developed iSpot, a website to help beginners learn how to identify wildlife, and go on to get involved in wildlife survey and conservation. On iSpot, people can upload digital photos or descriptions of the species they’ve seen, and are encouraged to try identifying it themselves. Others can show agreement with the suggested identification, or add an alternative if it is not correct.

iSpot (external website)

What should I do if I have concerns that a building development may impact on wildlife?

Anyone can object, support, view or comment on a planning application.

The council is keen to give people who may be affected by the proposed development the opportunity to express their views. We recognise that neighbours who live in the vicinity of an application site may be aware of local conditions and problems that they may wish to highlight in the consideration of the application.

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