The Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP) has launched the latest practical guidance on considering the impact upon bats when designing lighting schemes. They have partnered the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) and ecological consultants to write this document on avoiding or reducing the harmful effects which artificial lighting may have on bats and their habitats. This guidance can be downloaded from the ILP website.
The Guidance Note (GN) supersedes the previous 2009 guidance and goes into depth about lighting levels and colour temperature impacts on different bat species. It is intended to raise awareness of the impacts of artificial lighting on bats but also the potential solutions to avoid and reduce this harm.
It has been written by a panel of experts representing ILP, BCT and ecologists. Since the publishing of the 2009 edition there has been an increase in the knowledge of our UK bat species, of which there are now 18 recorded species and a considerable amount of research done on impacts but also mitigation measures.
International and domestic legislation protect all species of bat and their roost sites (whether bats are present at the time or not). It is illegal to kill, injure, capture, or cause disturbance that affects populations of bats, obstruct access to bat roosts, or damage or destroy bat roosts. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) protects all bats from ‘intentional’ or ‘reckless’ disturbance. Lighting in the vicinity of a bat roost causing disturbance and potential abandonment of the roost or entomb bats within the roost which could constitute an offence both to a population and to individuals.
New development projects can reduce negative impacts of lighting on bats by utilising this guidance along with advice from suitably experienced ecological consultants from the start of a project. This latest guidance recommends a working partnership between the Lighting Profession and the Ecologists who specialise in bats where lighting is required, and bats may be impacted.
The GN considers bats roosting, foraging and commuting needs in greater details than ever before. Some bat species have been shown to be impacted by significantly lower lighting levels than others, certain colour temperature environments also play a factor in the level of impact. However, all bats require dark roosting areas, corridors through the landscape and habitats to feed.
With the advent of modern LED technology, there is also more flexibility to control for light spill, choose wider colour temperature options and implement flexible lighting schemes unlike previous restrictions with sodium technology, for example.
The ILP and BCT intend this document to be read by lighting professionals, lighting designers, planning officers, developers, bat workers/ecologists and anyone specifying lighting.
Jo Ferguson, Built Environment Officer, Bat Conservation Trust, said “Although we will continue to learn more about how lighting impacts on bats, other wildlife and people, this guidance note is an important step in raising awareness of the negative impacts of artificial lighting and how to avoid or reduce them. This work emphasises the importance of ecologists and lighting engineers collaborating to find a solution at the start of a project and to communicate throughout to find positive solutions for all concerned.”
James Miles from the panel said “This document addresses concerns from the lighting profession in designing lighting that avoids or reduces impacts on our bat species while also being fit for purpose.”
Header photo: Common Pipistrelle bat © Hugh Clark/http://www.bats.org.uk