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Council adopts new wildlife protocol to protect bats and birds

14 October 2020

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Environment and Regeneration Committee today gave their approval to plans to introduce a new Council policy to protect local wildlife on its estate.

The new Bat and Bird protocol will prioritise the safeguarding of bats and birds in any future planning decisions affecting Council owned trees and built structures. It will provide guidance for the environmental management of any Council managed woodland areas, as well as buildings earmarked for inspection, maintenance, removal or demolition.

Members were informed by Council's Director of Environment and Regeneration, Karen Phillips, that the new protocol would help establish best practice by determining how best to carry out inspections for the presence of bats, birds and their nesting sites to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation.

The committee was told that Council is responsible for an estate of 800 ha and that, while committed to delivering an extensive capital development programme to progress the development of the City and District, it's incumbent on Council to lead by example in the protection of wildlife on its estate. Particularly when bringing forward projects that may impact on bats and birds.

The Committee voted unanimously in favour of the protocol which will form an integral part of any future project plans, once ratified at Full Council at the end of the month.

Chair of the Environment and Regeneration Committee, Alderman Maurice Devenney, welcomed the decision saying: "This is a very positive move by Council and it's in keeping with our wider commitment to protecting and conserving our local environment. It's important that we set an example that will act as a benchmark for all development in the Derry and Strabane area.

"The onus is on all of us to protect our indigenous wildlife and this protocol will ensure that all Council members and officers fully understand and are compliant with the relevant wildlife legislation. It's another step forward in achieving Council's environmental ambitions as set out in our Green Infrastructure Plan 2019 - 2032."

The 'Bat & Bird Protocol for Council Managed trees/Woodlands and Built Structures' will be adopted on a trial basis for one year initially and will be reviewed thereafter.