Bat surveys Dunston Tower, Gateshead

Durham Wildlife Service’s carried out a series of bat surveys across Dunston Tower (also known as the rocket) and surrounding maisonettes on behalf of Gateshead Council. This included an internal and external risk assessment of all of the properties, and was followed with a series of dusk and dawn surveys during which no bats were found to be roosting in any of the properties.  However, when demolition work began, bats were discovered roosting within the bay windowsills in one of the blocks of maisonettes.  Subsequent to the original surveys the lead flashing had been stolen from beneath the bay windows, thus providing access points for bats into the bay windowsills.  DNA analysis of droppings discovered small numbers of common pipistrelle and brown long-eared bats were using the windowsills.  The nocturnal surveys were then repeated and a licence was applied for from Natural England.  A licence is required from Natural England before a bat roost can be destroyed, and as part of this licence mitigation must be put in place to ensure that there is no net loss in roosting habitat for the bats on site, therefore the local bat population will not suffer from the loss of these roosts.  The licence was granted and 15 schwegler bat boxes were installed on trees around the site.  The bats roosts in the building were then destroyed under the supervision of a licenced bat ecologist, in case a bat was found, so that the building could then be demolished.

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