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Dean Natural Alliance

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The Forest of Dean is an area of European importance for bats. Most of our British species are present and make good use of the habitat of woodland, woodland edge, grazing and forest “waste”.   Another important feature is the presence of many disused mines and the Wye valley caves which provide ideal hibernating conditions for many of these flying mammals.

 

The old colliery buildings at Northern United, together with a purpose-built roost building, provide a home to a colony of rare lesser horseshoe bats.  This species is endangered through much of its European range and the Forest of Dean and lower Wye valley is acknowledged to be one of their strongholds.  Natural England has notified a number of sites as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and these have also been designated as a “Special Area of Conservation” (SAC) under European Wildlife Laws.

 

Horseshoe bats have some very specific requirements. The lesser horseshoe bats, together with the closely related greater horseshoe which is  also present on the site, hate light and crossing open spaces.  The proposed new ‘A Class’ street-lit Spine Road across the site is therefore of special concern since it is to be routed between the maternity SSSI standard roost buildings and their main identified insect feeding grounds, to the west.

 

Apart from horseshoe bats, other rare species present include both Barbastelle and Bechstein’s bats. The abundance of species seems to be intrinsically linked to the ecosystem of highly diverse plant and insect life, the ponds and wet areas and the surrounding woodland.  The proposed development will destroy habitat and this balance and simply cannot be satisfactorily mitigated for.  It will be to the great detriment of a wide range of species, including the 14 species of bat currently using the site.

 

 

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Bat Species recorded             UK EU

                          Status Status

 

Lesser horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros   Rare EU (VU)

Greater Horseshoe Rhinolophus ferrum equinum   Rare EU (VU)

Barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus  Very rare EU (VU)

Bechstein’s Myotis bechsteinii          Very rare EU (VU)

Natterer’s Myotis nattereri

Daubenton Myotis daubentonii

Whiskered Myotis mystacinus

Brandts        Myotis brandtii

Leisler’s        Nyctalus leisleri    Rare

Noctule        Nyctalus noctula

Serotine        Eptesicus serotinus            Uncommon

Brown long-eared Plecotus auritus

Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus

Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus

 

(VU=Vulnerable)

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Bechstein's Lesser horseshoe bats Old Greater Horseshoe bat

Bats