The Bats in Churches project is now officially underway with the new team on board and committed to seeing the project through over the next five years. The end of last year saw solutions successfully developed for the three pilot churches, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund confirm a grant of £3.8 million, securing the majority of the project funding.

Our engagement, heritage and volunteer training experts, together with bat and conservation specialists, will be working with the 102 churches taking part in this trailblazing project. Our aim is to find locally appropriate and sustainable solutions to ensure the churches and their communities are able to thrive alongside their bats. Each church provides a unique set of challenges some of which will be addressed using Natural England’s specially created Bats in Churches Class Licence.

We will be offering additional support to churches looking to host events and will be providing materials to further engage the local community with their church and resident bats. We shall also offer specialist cleaning workshops and work to bolster links between churches and local bat groups. This will help to build a network of volunteers to support the efforts of the dedicated church volunteers whose work is often made harder by the presence of bats.

Over the past few weeks the team has been getting in touch with the project churches, going over plans and booking in visits. We have also contracted more specialist ecologists able to implement the Bats in Churches Licence, with some large-scale solutions already underway. And work has begun on a national survey database to collect information on how bats are interacting with churches across the country.