Essential preparation works for the new Hinkley Point C project meant that certain protected species specific to the area went in search of new places to live.
The partial removal of a particular treeline meant that the navigation paths of barbastelle bats’ were disrupted – impacting the bats day to day movements.
The barbastelle lives in woodland and forages over a wide area. Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and found only in southern England and Wales, very few breeding sites are known.
A grant was given by the Hinkley Community Impact Mitigation ecology fund to enable the team to build a new habitat in an area of the site that bats, birds and reptiles call home.
To ensure connectivity for the protected species, a bat bridge was constructed. The bridge allows wildlife to echolocate along their natural migration paths as if the treeline was still in place.
The project team have also planted 20,000 trees around the site, replaced habitats and homes for protected species like newts and badgers and created wildflower meadows specifically for wildlife foraging.
At the same time, to help protect the local wildlife’s normal activities, lighting is directed away from habitats wherever possible and shielded to reduce the risk of light spilling into these areas.
Barbastelles are extremely rare in Britain, with just five colonies identified in 2001. The new habitat, which has been established on the nearby East Quantoxhead Estate, will support the future conservation of one of the last remaining colonies in the UK.
The loss of the barbastelle populations from several areas in England appear to be related to the loss of old woodlands. It is therefore essential that areas with suitable roost sites, such as the Hinkley Point C, are monitored and conserved.
By creating this new habitat the team has eased the effects the works may of had on the barbastelle bats’ navigation paths and day-to-day movements by providing new flight paths and nesting areas.