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Hall roof delay


Bats in the belfry halt hall repairs
July 2018: Bats have forced contractors to stop work on Clayhidon Parish Hall. A small colony of long-eared bats was discovered roosting in the loft while a new slate roof was being fitted.
Kevin Bowden, of Wellington roofing firm Courtney Bowden and Son, found six adult bats when he stripped the slates behind the belfry of the 125 year old former schoolroom. 
It’s illegal deliberately or recklessly to harm bats, so work had to stop immediately while Natural England were informed and ecologists from Blackdown Environmental were called in to conduct a survey. 
Ecologists Katie Jones and Bethan Withey (pictured)  found evidence of a small breeding colony, which means work cannot continue until Natural England grant a licence and not before the end breeding season. 
This could mean a hold-up of nearly three months in the work, which is being funded by a £25,800 grant by Viridor Credits. 
“We knew there were swifts nesting in the roof, and we were already taking care not to disturb them, but we didn’t realise there were bats as well,” said hall chairman Gareth Weekes. “Complying with the law is proving very expensive, adding at least £1,500 to our bill. But bats are declining nationally and we are happy to be doing our bit to help.”

Pictures: Above and right, Katie Jones and Bethan Withey and below right, what they found in the loft; The bats' entry point behind the old school bell and thousands of bat droppings.
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