For the first time in a bat crime case, an offender has been referred to the Crown Court for sentencing. Magistrates have found Hargurdial Singh Rai, from Birmingham-based ISAR Enterprise Ltd, guilty of destroying known bat roosts on a development site. agb Environmental warns clients that failing to adhere to bat survey findings is a criminal offence.
In recent years a worrying pattern of low level fines have been awarded to criminals who knowingly destroy bat roosts. This has led to developers continuing their projects rather than taking the advice of an ecologist’s survey, preferring to pay the small fine handed out by the court.
This has, until now, meant that damaging habitats and killing wildlife is financial more profitable than adhering to surveys. However, with Rai’s case being sent to the Crown Court for sentencing, it may no longer prove beneficial for developers to break the law.
With costs already calculated on how much it would be to correctly protect the species, future fines should correlate according to the developer’s financial gain from not carrying out said provisions.
Managing Director, Alex Brearley, explains: “The courts are sending out a clear message that wildlife law is to be taken seriously and not as a cost of development. Our recommendations are based on the most cost effective and expedient approach to the development with full regard to legally protected species and habitats.”
In April, Hargurdial Singh Rai was put on trial for redeveloping former offices, despite brown long-eared bats found to be roosting on the site. The ecologist who oversaw the survey alerted the police when he noticed construction had begun.
A Wildlife Crime Officer and the police checked the site to find that the roosts had indeed been destroyed. According to the case, Rai had sought to save £5,737 in conservation provisions.
Magistrates found him guilty, and instead of sentencing Rai, have referred the case to Derby Crown Court to consider confiscation of assets. He has since appealed his case, which is set for September. A full link to the case can be found here.
agb Environmental is pleased to hear that crimes against the habitat of protected bats could have tougher sentencing in the future.
For full bat surveys and mitigation, contact us on 01638 663 226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org