Work at Christ Church in Wellington delayed due to bats

A brown long-eared bat Brown long-eared bat and pipistrelle droppings have been found in the belfry at Christ Church

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"Urgent" renovation work on a historic church in Shropshire has been delayed because of bats.

Christ Church in Wellington had been due to start work on its roof when pipistrelle and brown long-eared bats were discovered in its belfry.

Bats are protected by law and experts have warned work cannot go ahead until the breeding season ends in September.

The bats have been identified by their droppings, which were discovered by church wardens.

Shrewsbury-based environmental consultancy Becl has said it is unsure of the number of bats within the church, although they have also been identified in neighbouring buildings.

The Reverend Vaughan Sweet said the discovery had delayed "very urgent" work on the church roof and stonework of the tower.

The Grade II listed building was constructed in 1868 and an inspection by English Heritage has confirmed the original nails, which secure the roof slates, are beginning to fail.

The Reverend Sweet warned that if slates started falling before the work could be completed the churchyard and even the building itself might be forced to close.

English Heritage has awarded the church a grant of £105,000 towards the repairs, expected to cost £168,000.

Despite the delays the vicar said the church had become fond of its visitors and four of the new roof tiles would be designed to allow the bats access to the building.

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