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15th December 2020

Developer hit with record fine for destroying breeding site for bats

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In what should be a salient lesson to all developers carrying out works near breeding sites of protected species, on 8 December at Woolwich Crown Court, Bellway Homes was fined £600,000 after they admitted to damaging or destroying a breeding site or resting place for bats at a construction site in Greenwich.

The company was also ordered to pay further costs of over £30,000, and agreed to make a voluntary donation of £20,000 to the Bat Conservation Trust.

The case was brought after Bellway Homes carried out demolition work at a site in Artillery Place, Greenwich in 2018. The presence of Soprano Pipistrelle bats had been documented at the site in 2017 and Bellway Homes had been notified in planning documents that if they wished to carry out work they would need to first obtain the appropriate mitigation and a Natural England European Protected Species licence. All bats within the UK are European Protected Species. No licence was obtained from Natural England.

On 3 December 2018 police were notified by The Royal Borough of Greenwich’s planning department that demolition work had been carried out at the site. Officers sought advice from the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit and the Crown Prosecution Service and following a thorough investigation the company was charged on 19 November 2019.

Inspector David Hawtin of the Greenwich Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: “Bellway Homes has admitted responsibility for this and I hope it reinforces the message that this legislation is there for a reason and should be adhered to.”

If you have any questions in relation to this article the Planning and Environment Team at Hewitsons LLP will be happy to assist.