Mrs Caroline Spelman: Following the General Election the Church Commissioners plan to seek an early meeting with the Department for Communities and Local Government regarding changing the regulations on bat roosts. In recent years the Church of England has seen increased numbers of bats using church buildings as roosts. This increased usage of our church buildings by bats for roosting is causing considerable strain on the parish communities and volunteers who maintain the parish churches alongside the great expense in cleaning and restoration of items of great religious, cultural and historic significance. In extreme cases the presence of bats is preventing the building being used for worship or by its wider community.
The Church of England is working alongside Natural England on a substantial Heritage Lottery Fund bid which will seek to provide physical and long lasting solutions for the worst affected churches and create a wider support network for those with smaller or transient bat populations. Both St . Margaret of Antioch, Wellington and St Mary’s Church, Pembridge in my Hon Friend’s constituency have faced significant problems with bat populations. Both churches are part of the Heritage Lottery Fund bid and have already installed mitigation measures. We hope the bid for support will be successful and that this might then be able to bring some relief to churches across the country.