MP?Helen Hayes is pushing the government to make sure the UK’s Brexit uncertainty doesn’t negatively affect wildlife protected by EU legislation – including the common pipistrelle bat.
The MP for Dulwich and West Norwood supports the Bat Conservation Trust as a ‘species champion’ for the pipistrelle, one of ten species of bat recorded in London out of the eighteen resident in the UK.
Throughout March and April she has continued to question the government on its plans to prevent biodiversity loss and the Department for Rural Affairs’ track record against targets.
Bat numbers in the UK have sharply declined, with habitat loss, building work and even street lights threatening the creatures’ ability to roost.
Although pipistrelles are the most commonly found type of bat in Britain, they are still a protected species under EU legislation.
As European Protected Species, it is illegal to capture, injure, kill, disturb or destroy the breeding or resting place of all eighteen species of UK bat.
The London Bat Group has been recording sightings across London to track their number and distribution, including in Southwark enclaves such as Dulwich and Sydenham woods.
Dr Nunez-Mino, from the Bat Conservation Trust, told the News the charity was very grateful to Hayes for championing the common pipistrelle, and questioning the government’s plans to make sure biodiversity targets are not forgotten.
“In terms of specific actions that the government can take as we leave the EU, there is an urgent need to set ambitious nature recovery targets and for them to be legally binding and enforceable,” he told the News.
“These should be independently monitored and reported. For this to be possible it’s vitally important that a strong nature watchdog or environmental regulator is independent of government and has the power to hold politicians to account and challenge any bad decisions.”
In early April, Landrose Developments, a building company, was fined £18,000 for illegally destroying a building where protected pipistrelle bats were roosting in Stanmore three years ago, without having the required Protected Species Licence.
The case was only the second ever conviction of its kind by the Met, which has urged the public to come forward and report any bat roosts in danger from construction work.