Sir Chris asks the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs question about bats in residential space.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it Government policy to remove protection from bats occupying residential space where householders have an anxiety about bats being vectors of disease; and if he will make a statement.
While bats can carry disease, the risk of transmissions to humans is very low especially if the animals are not handled. COVID-19 has not been detected in any of the UK's 17 resident breeding bat species and no coronaviruses have been found in UK bats that are harmful to humans.
Bats provide a range of benefits in ecosystems including pollination, seed dispersal and pest control. UK bat populations are thought to have reduced substantially in the middle years of the last century due to intensive farming, use of pesticides and the loss of roost sites in woodland and buildings. Given this and our 25 Year Environment Plan commitments toward protecting and recovering nature, we see no reason to remove their protected status.
Individuals should contact the national bat helpline (https://www.bats.org.uk/our-work/national-bat-helpline) if they have any concerns about bats roosts. The helpline will provide advice and where appropriate can arrange for one of Natural England's volunteer bat roost visitors to inspect a property.
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