Posted: Wed 10th Jan 2024

Householder Loses Battle to Lift Ban on External Lighting to Protect Bats

news.wales / newyddion.cymru

A HOUSEHOLDER has lost a year long battle to lift a ban on lighting his home from the outside that is intended to protect bats. 
James Tuttle was granted retrospective planning permission in October 2021 for alterations and an extension he’d made to his home, a converted, barn in the Monmouthshire countryside. 
In December 2022 Mr Tuttle asked Monmouthshire County Council to lift one of the conditions it made when it granted him the retrospective permission which prevented the elevations of the house, named Beaulieu Barn, from being illuminated by lighting or lighting fixtures. 
The council said the condition was needed to “ensure retention of roosting/foraging opportunities” for bats that are a protected species and which are likely to be present near his home at Kymin Road, The Kymin east of Monmouth. 
Mr Tuttle wanted the condition lifted as he claimed it  hadn’t met the test that planning conditions are necessary. He also claimed the condition was “unreasonable”, as he thought it meant the council was seeking to force him to remove motion sensitive lights he’d attached to the barn. 
But independent planning inspector Anthony Thickett upheld the council’s decision, after Mr Tuttle appealed to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW), and said the understanding there was a ban on attaching lights to the building was wrong. 
Mr Thickett, in his decision, said the previous planning permissions required lighting attached to the building to be angled downwards and not be placed over 2.3 metres above ground level and a condition of an extension, that was approved in 2016, said any lights attached to it had to be at a low level. 
As a result Mr Thickett said the council’s decision to restrict lighting of the building is “relevant” to the development and “serves a planning purpose”. 
He said the condition which was being appealed doesn’t require lighting to be removed only that it be redirected “to avoid illuminating the building”. 
Mr Thickett said it was accepted there are a high number of bats within one kilometre of the barn with records showing there are least 11 of the UK’s 17 breeding bat species nearby including lesser horseshoe, greater horseshoe and barbastelle bats which are known to be particularly light sensitive. 
The barn is also within 40 metres of a management unit of the Wye Valley Woodlands Special Area of Conservation (SAC) with the lesser horseshoe bat population supported by the woodlands a feature of its designation. 
Mr Tuttle’s bid to be reimbursed for his costs was also refused. He said Monmouthshire council hadn’t decided his application within the statutory time limit. But Mr Thickett said the application was made on December 22 and though there was no decision until March 2023 Mr Tuttle had been advises to support his application with a statement from an ecologist but hadn’t provided one. 
Mr Thickett said: “The council was closed over the Christmas period and, therefore, unable to process the application or seek the necessary advice until the holiday period was over. In my view, this is a substantive and reasonable ground for failing to meet the statutory time limit.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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