York & North Yorkshire

Yorkshire homeowner calls for law change over bat colony

A North Yorkshire man who says part of his home is uninhabitable because of hundreds of bats wants a change in the law protecting the species.

Months after moving into his converted barn in Leathley, Jonathan Mortimer found the roof space plagued by bats.

He said: "The final straw was a bat making a landing on the duvet in the middle of the night."

He said "draconian laws" protecting the species meant there was little he could do to solve the problem.

Mr Mortimer, a solicitor in Harrogate, said the bats were creating havoc in his home, which was once a set for ITV1 soap Emmerdale.

"The noise during the night is so disturbing that we have given up sleeping in the main bedroom," he added.

"We tried sleeping with ear plugs but that did not help.

"They even find their way into the bedrooms via the smallest cracks.

"I usually end up sleeping downstairs on the settee, attempting to catch some sleep where I can."

Rules 'tight'

Both bats and their roosts are protected by law in the UK.

That means it is an offence to deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat or to intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats.

Mr Mortimer said he had been in touch with the Bat Conservation Trust and Natural England in an attempt to get the bats removed by obtaining a licence.

He said: "I can't actually live in my own house because the bats are so heavily protected and the logical progression of the whole thing is that I should just end up giving the keys to the bats because they seem to have more rights than I do."

He added: "The conservation laws have gone too far that they do need to be relaxed.

"My problem is that the rules are so tight that effectively what we're doing is encouraging these animals to live in what is effectively an unnatural habitat which prevents me from living in my normal habitat."

A spokesman for Natural England said it had not received an application for a bat exclusion licence for the property.

No one from the Bat Conservation Trust was available for comment.

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