A ground-breaking project led by Natural England to help churches that host large bat roosts has been granted £3.8 million of funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
This new round of funding will help deliver a five year partnership project, bringing together wildlife, heritage conservation and church organisations to save bats and protect churches for future generations.
The UK’s bat population has suffered significant historical decline which is why they are protected by UK law. Loss of natural habitats means some bat species have been forced to find safe havens in buildings including historic churches.
Many church communities live harmoniously with bat roosts. However, in some cases bats are causing irreparable damage to historically significant church monuments and memorials as well as impacting upon the people who use the buildings.
Recently approved techniques and a new licence developed by Natural England to permit necessary work will be used to improve both the natural and historic environment and to support the people who care for them.
Natural England Chairman, Andrew Sells, said:
England’s bat population has suffered historic decline which has forced many to find refuge in some of the nation’s historic churches.
The funding announced today will give great impetus to the partnership of heritage, wildlife and church organisations which aims to resolve conflicts. Together these groups are demonstrating astonishing passion and drive in working together to save these wonderful animals and protect cherished churches across the country.
Natural England is working in partnership with The Church of England, Historic England, Bat Conservation Trust and Churches Conservation Trust to deliver this ambitious and innovative project.
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said:
Places of worship and nature are both priorities for us, but they don’t always coexist harmoniously. Finding ways to solve this problem is beneficial to bats, churches and their congregations and is a really good use of National Lottery players’ money.
On Friday 12th October BBC Breakfast featured a package following the announcement that the Heritage Lottery Fund have awarded £3.8 million for the ground breaking project.
The package featured interviews with Natural England, a church representative and member of the Norfolk Bats and Churches project discussing how this new funding will help deliver a five year partnership project bringing together wildlife, heritage conservation and church organisations to save bats and protect churches for future generations.