Natural England’s Wildlife Licensing Service had been made aware of potential breaches of the licence issued to Patrick Weekes, of Radbourne Construction Limited, in October 2022, in connection with a development in Harehill, near Ashbourne.
A European Protected Species Bat Mitigation Licence was issued to Weekes in October 2020. The licence permitted the capture, disturbance, transport, and damage of resting places for Brown long-eared (Plecotus auritus) and Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) bats. It also permitted the damage of a breeding site for Brown long-eared bats.
Natural England took the decision to prosecute because the breaches were considered so significant as to have impacted the welfare and Favourable Conservation Status of the bat species involved.
Following a compliance check, Natural England’s Enforcement Team led a multi-agency site visit in February 2023 which evidenced that the defendant had breached the conditions of his licence on four counts.
The breaches left brown long-eared bats with no suitable maternity roosting provision within the site. They also significantly reduced the suitability of roosting opportunities for common pipistrelle bats, as well as endangering the welfare of both species.
Patrick Weekes, 55, of Radbourne Construction Limited, Vernongate, Derby, appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court on September 4 and pleaded guilty to all four offences relating to a housing development in Harehill, near Ashbourne.
These included failing to install Bitumen type 1F roofing felt with hessian matrix, failing to install the compensation and mitigation measures, failing to complete post-development monitoring and stripping the roof of a property containing a Common pipistrelle day roost without direct ecological supervision.
Weekes, of Radbourne Construction Limited, was fined £3,200 plus a victim’s surcharge of £1,280 and ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £9,955.17.
While sentencing the defendant, the court noted that he had acted in contravention of the professional advice provided by both their own ecological consultant and Natural England. The defendant did not carry out work to mitigate the harmful impact on bats when so instructed by Natural England.
Steph Bird-Halton, Natural England’s National Delivery Director, said: “Natural England does not take the decision to prosecute lightly. However, where individuals or companies place the welfare or Favourable Conservation Status of protected species at risk, we will not hesitate to take targeted and proportionate enforcement action.I would like to thank the Bat Conservation Trust’s Wildlife Crime Project for the assistance they provided in this case.”