#holewatch – Special Bat Planning Edition!

There is nothing the Wapping Mole likes more than a bit of digging. Well, apart from a HUGE amount of digging. The reason Moley likes digging so much is that he never knows what he will find.

This Bank Holiday Friday afternoon he spent some time digging away at the King Henry’s and Phoenix Wharves development and found something small but possibly very important.


Which is odd because Moley was not looking for bats at all but er… something else. Of which more another time.

Common pipistrelle bat in flight

As with most planning applications there are numerous phases and lots of forms, plans, reports and legal stuff in various places on the planning application portal.

At the moment Moley thinks that it is only these references that relate to King Henry’s Wharves.

  • PA/13/00982/A1 (Main)
  • PA/17/00453/S (Revised CMP)
  • PA/16/01310/NC

Mole has been digging around these – and other places too – for anything of interest and he found something inside the 142 documents of PA/16/01310/NC.

You can see from the above screen grab of the relevant page on the Tower Hamlets planning application portal that there are two documents relating to bats, both being published on 20 June 2016.

Bats a material consideration in the planning process

We all love bats, especially Moley, so we should all be grateful that “bats and the places they use for shelter or protection (i.e. roosts) receive European protection under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (Habitats Regulations 2010). They receive further legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981, as amended. This protection means that bats, and the places they use for shelter or protection, are capable of being a material consideration in the planning process.” according the documents Moley read.

It also seems that regulation 41 of the Habitats Regulations 2010, states that a person commits an offence if they:

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat
  • Deliberately disturb bats
  • Damage or destroy a bat roost (breeding site or resting place)

So don’t mess with bats. Ever.

Because of this protection there has to be a bat survey of any site where a planning application has been submitted and there is the possibility of disturbing some of our lovely bats.

For the King Henry’s Wharves planning application Middlemarch Environmental Ltd  were commissioned by the developers agents to undertake nocturnal and dawn swarm bat surveys at the site in  October 2012, November 2012, September 2013 and August 2013.

Only one species of bat was spotted, a common pipistrelle. Hardly a swarm, but still a bat.

However Middlemarch Environmental recommended at the end of their report that although no bat roosts have currently been identified on site and works can continue as planned “if demolition works have not commenced by April 2015 an updated bat survey should be completed to determine if the status of the buildings has changed.”

Demolition has not started. And hard as we looked we could not see any bat survey in the documents since April 2015.

So it looks like the developers of King Henry’s and Phoenix Wharves should, if for no other reason, stop their digging until they get another bat survey done.

Because in Wapping we do like our bats.