Our more sustainable homes make bats homeless | climate

The camera in the cavity is not enough

Before insulating a cavity wall, insulation companies usually just look into the cavity with a small camera to see what’s there: pipes or debris, but also animals. But that camera doesn’t see everything, and moreover, bats are in different places and in different seasons. If you don’t find any animals, your house can still be a bat pen for another time.

That is why, according to experts, an ecologist should come to see if bats exist. If so, a more comprehensive environmental study should follow.

Bat activity is then monitored in different seasons to see if your home is popular as a mating residence, summer residence, or maternity residence for certain species. Do bats like to perch in your cavity wall if the spring sun shines on it in the morning, or if your house heating keeps it warm in the winter? Such a thorough investigation costs a lot of time and thousands of euros.

“I found an impossibility there,” says researcher Hermann Lempens of the Mammal Society. “How can a private individual check all this stuff? That’s ten times more expensive than the entire post-isolation period.”

Pat case in court

However, this is what the Nature Protection Act says, the Regional Enforcement Service in Utrecht agrees. The environmental watchdog sanctioned insulation company Isosun for not doing enough research into the presence of bats. The removal company appealed, but was unsuccessful in court. He concluded that more extensive research on bats was indeed needed before isolation could be allowed.

The State Council is now considering this issue. The highest administrative court faces a difficult dilemma: assert that rigorous environmental research is mandatory – which would slow down the sustainability of buildings – or find another solution that also works well for protected animal species.

The Council has taken a notable step in this regard: this month everyone had the opportunity to “reflect” on the problem. The judge wanted to gather more information about the effectiveness of the different research methods and the costs associated with them. Since 2021, it is legally possible to request entries in this way. This option is now being used for the first time, says a spokesperson.

SEVON’s Janssen is pleased that the bat case is over in court. So far, insulation companies have done very little to ensure bats are protected, he says. “The sacking industry has been able to rage like a cowboy for ten or fifteen years and never get caught. In fact, all enforcement services should be suing one sacking company after another.”

Isolatiemateriaal wordt in seen spouwmuur gespoten.

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