A large-scale, national project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and All Churches Trust is currently being developed, to look at the problems caused by bats roosting and breeding in churches, and to seek solutions which meet the needs of both the churches and the bats.
All the relevant national bodies are partners in the project: The Church of England (Cathedral and Church Buildings Division); Historic England; Natural England; Bat Conservation Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust. This month they are conducting a survey which they would like anyone with an interest in the issue to complete and you can find it here http://www.batsandchurches.org.uk/volunteering-survey/
This is an issue which affects many churches to a greater or lesser extent and the project is trialling various initiatives during the development period, to find what is effective without causing harm to the bats which are protected by law.
A pilot project at Stanford on Avon in Northamptonshire has successfully excluded a colony of around 700 bats which were using the church as a nursery roost, causing significant mess and damage to monuments, floors and furniture. Following surveys of their behaviour and other roosting sites in the vicinity, they have now been largely excluded from the church and accommodated instead in two main roosting boxes situated immediately inside and outside their main entrance point to the church.
It’s amazing how small a space can accommodate so many! Other solutions for less severe problems can include sonar equipment which can restrict bats to a small part of the building, making the problem more manageable. The use of lighting, however, has already been ruled out.
In due course, the project has the potential to identify a range of solutions which can be adapted to the particular circumstances of each church.
The law is very clear that bats cannot be disturbed or handled without a licence, so solutions will not be immediate, but if this is a problem for your church, you might like to find out more. You can follow the progress of the project here http://www.batsandchurches.org.uk/