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Bat Licence Training Programme

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Our Bat Licence Training Programme is delivered predominantly online, allowing you to study the theory over the winter from the comfort of your own home/office. In the survey season we have a number of field days, which enable you to put theory into practice. The standard training package starts at £2600.

How our bat licence training works

Our main aim is to support you to achieve a bat survey licence. We recognise that you are an individual and that your experience and existing knowledge will differ from our other trainees. We also know that the timescales over which you want to learn and the money you can spend in any given year will also differ. 

To reflect this, we have modified our bat licence training course into a Bat Licence Training Programme. The Bat Licence Training Programme is offered through a series of units delivered online (via Zoom) and in person. Collectively these units cover the full breadth of knowledge and skills required. You can choose to book onto all units or just the ones you need to attend. Similarly, you can choose to complete all units in one year or spread it out over several; the latter is particularly helpful to spread the cost, as well as give you time to gain the extra-curricular experience required before the final assessment.

The full suite of training comprises: 

  • Eight 1-day online training sessions (delivered between October and May), 
  • Two field days (April and August). On these days we tackle Preliminary Roost Assessments of both buildings and trees. We also work on your hands-on skills (handling, identification, use of endoscopes and hand nets). 
  • Three-day final assessment course (September). 

We will assess you throughout by asking you to complete online assessments, self-guided study exercises and meet with you to discuss your personal development. Once the theoretical and extra curricular elements are achieved we will then invite you for a final 3-day face to face final assessment course in September.

Delegates on training course radio tracking a bat

Types of licence which can be obtained

We currently provide support and training to enable trainees to achieve a bat survey licence in England or Wales. Survey licences take a hierarchical approach and may permit one or more activity. These include:

Natural England survey or research licence 

  • Level 1 (CL17) – Disturb bats with a torch/without handling. 
  • Level 2 (CL18) – Handle bats and use hand-held nets or an endoscope.

Find out more: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bat-licences#bat-survey-licences

Natural Resources Wales Personal Survey Licence 

  • Disturb bats without handling them.
  • Disturb and take bats by hand for identification and release.
  • Disturb and take bats by static hand net in roosts and outside roost entrances for identification and release.
  • Disturb hibernating bats without handling them.

Find out more: https://naturalresources.wales/permits-and-permissions/species-licensing/apply-for-a-protected-species-licence/bat-licences-for-surveys-and-conservation-work/?lang=en

Lee found a bat during the bat licence training course

How does the licensing system work?

When applying for a survey licence, applicants have to provide details of their skills and experience in relation to that species/group of species. Typically a licence application will need to be supported by two references. These references follow a standard format and are completed by referees who have direct knowledge of your work and experience with the species. Referees must:

In England

  • be wildlife professionals
  • have held a similar licence within the last 3 years

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reference-to-support-a-protected-species-licence

In Wales

  • have held a similar licence within the last 2 years

At BATS RTS we work with you to develop your experience and skills and assess these throughout the process. Upon satisfactory completion, we then provide you with two references 

Trainees holding nets on a training course

What do I need to learn?

Our bat licence training service uses the Bat Conservation Trust’s ‘Professional Training Standards’ as the basis for course content and assessment. The standard has twelve units:

  • Legislation, licensing and planning
  • Considerations for bat surveys
  • Ecological considerations for bat surveys
  • Preliminary ecological appraisal for bats
  • Bat roost inspection surveys – buildings built structures and underground sites
  • Bat roost inspection surveys – trees
  • Emergence/re-entry surveys – structures and trees
  • Bat activity and back tracking surveys 
  • Advanced licence bat surveys 
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Writing bat reports
  • Bat roost mitigation 

The standards identify five levels of competency, which relate to CIEEM competency levels. These are summarised below:

  • 1 – Basic – Some knowledge, experience and skills but always works under supervision
  • 2 – Capable – Has knowledge, experience and skills to carry out surveys independently (except for swarming and advanced licence bat survey techniques), lead and design simple surveys and mitigation and deal with simple planning/mitigation licensing. Assumes Level 1 Natural England licence – disturbance to bats using torches for survey.
  • 3 – Accomplished – Has knowledge, experience and skills to carry out and lead complex surveys, design surveys and mitigation and deal with planning/mitigation licensing. Assumes Level 2 Natural England  licence – disturbance to bats using handling and endoscopes.
  • 4 – Authoritative – Has knowledge, experience and skills to lead complex projects such as those involving EIA or HRA
  • 5 – Specialist skills – Has knowledge, experience and skills in specialist bat survey techniques. Assumes Levels 3 and 4 Natural England licence – mist netting, acoustic lure, harp trapping.

The aim of our training is to provide tuition and assessment to at least level three – Accomplished; i.e. that required to hold a level 2 Natural England licence (handling, hand net and endoscope) or a Natural Resources Wales Personal Survey Licence (with handling, hand net and endoscope endorsements) 

A group identifying a bat at night on a training course

What does the bat licence training service cover?

We have developed unitised training to ensure we can help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to hold your own licence. Here is a detailed breakdown of each unit of the Bat Conservation Trust’s ‘Professional Training Standards’, what training we offer, and the type of assessment. The table below provides a summary of the annual schedule:

Online training

Session ContentFormatAssessment
1Legislation, licensing and planningOnlineOnline assessment
2Considerations for bat surveysOnlineOnline assessment
3Bat biology and ecology OnlineOnline assessment
4Bat biology and ecologyOnlineOnline assessment
5Preliminary ecological appraisal for bats.
Bat roost inspection surveys – buildings, built structures and underground sites.
Writing bat reports
OnlineSee final assessment
Extra-curricular activity: Submission of log book
6Bat roost inspection surveys – treesOnlineSee final assessment
7Bat identification (theory)
Emergence/re-entry surveys – structures and trees
Bat activity and back tracking surveys 
Bat echolocation call analysis
OnlineOnline assessment
Extra-curricular activity: Submission of log book
8Mitigation and compensation
Advanced bat survey techniques (theory)
OnlineOnline assessment

Field days 

With the arrival of the survey season, we are able to get out and do some field work! 

We start in March with a day dedicated to Preliminary Roost Assessments (buildings, built structures). We talk through and demonstrate how to undertake a Preliminary Roost Assessment. Following this trainees will be able to practice their skills, with feedback provided. 

In August we run a similar day, this time dedicated to Preliminary Ground Level Roost Assessments and Potential Roost Feature Inspections (trees). We talk through and demonstrate how to undertake a Preliminary Ground Level Roost Assessment. Following this trainees will be able to practice their skills, with feedback provided. We also provide the opportunity to inspect known bat roosts with an endoscope.

To make the most of these days we also fit in a number of other tasks. These include bat box checks and bat catching (COVID guidance permitting). This will provide an opportunity to improve handling and identification skills. Assessment of bat handling and identification, endoscope and hand net use is on-going.

Final assessment course

Once the online sessions, field days and theoretical assessments have been completed, and you have achieved the necessary prerequisites (see below), we will then discuss the option of attending the final assessment course.

We hold our 3-day final assessment course at the Tortworth Estate, just north of Bristol. The habitats on the Tortworth Estate comprise ancient woodland, organic pasture and fresh water lakes. To date, 15 bat species have been recorded on the site, making it a great place to study bats.

The final assessment course aims to provide an opportunity to fine tune your survey skills and prepare you for the final assessment. The first two days will prepare you for the final assessment through a series activities, including a mock-exam (building and tree assessments) with constructive feedback provided. On the final day we will run the real exam. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills. We will then ask you to submit a survey report within two weeks of the assessment. We will assess this, provide feedback where necessary and inform you of the outcome. 

There are three potential outcomes:

  1. Approval – we will provide you with licence references at the level you have been assessed at.
  2. Approval pending some minor alterations – we will provide constructive feedback and identify areas for improvement. Once you have rectified these we will provide you with licence references at the level you have been assessed at.
  3. Not successful – if, for whatever reason, we don’t think you reach the necessary level, we will provide constructive feedback and identify areas to work on. We will support you through this process with a view to get you back out for another final assessment when you are ready.
Green harp trap deployed on a training course

What we need you to do

To receive a reference for a bat survey licence we need you to demonstrate all of the competencies in the Bat Conservation Trust’s Professional Training Standards. You can do this by completing all of the relevant assessments. 

Whilst we would love to be able to give you all of the experience required to pass the assessments, this would significantly increase the cost and deprive you of the opportunity of working with other bat workers. As such, we ask that by the final assessment course you have undertaken the following extracurricular activities:

  • A minimum of 100 hours bat contact time (any survey where you have encountered bats e.g. emergence, transect, catching surveys, etc. – the greater the diversity of experience the better!).
  • Undertaken at least 10 (non-hibernation) Preliminary Roost Assessments (buildings, built structures) where bats or evidence of bats found. Buildings and built structures vary hugely, and as such it is important to gain as much varied experience as possible. Ideally for these assessments you will shadow a licensed bat ecologist who will explain what they look for and demonstrate how to undertake the assessment. The skill we are looking for you to develop is the ability to assess and survey building, therefore bat box checks or tree inspections do not count towards this total.
  • Undertaken at least 2 hibernation visits (with bats or evidence of bats found).

Due to the time it takes to amass this experience, we ask trainees that have amassed 50% of this experience (50 hours, 5 Preliminary Roost Assessments and 1 hibernation visit) before they start (for the 1-year package) or before they start the second year (for the 2-year package).

It is also advantageous to gain handling experience (small, medium and large bats), however we do not set a minimum threshold for this. We ask that you submit evidence of these in the form of a bat logbook (template logbooks are available upon request). 

Group looking at bat poo ona the bat licence training course

What does it cost?

The cost depends on which package you choose. Details of the packages we offer are provided below.

1-year study package

This package offers the best value for money. It contains all of the training and assessments required to hold your own bat licence:

  • Legislation, licensing and planning
  • Considerations for bat surveys
  • Bat biology and ecology
  • Preliminary ecological appraisal for bats
  • Bat roost inspection surveys – buildings, built structures and underground sites
  • Bat identification and handling
  • Bat roost inspection surveys – trees
  • Emergence/re-entry surveys – structures and trees
  • Bat activity and back tracking surveys 
  • Bat echolocation call analysis
  • Writing bat reports

Cost (payment packages are available):

Early-bird rate £2600 (bookings made before 31st August).

Non-early-bird rate £2800 (bookings made after 31st August).

What do you get:
  • Personal development review meetings at the beginning, middle and end of your training. 
  • Access to monthly online Q&A sessions with a trainer.
  • Eight 1-day online training sessions. Sessions are delivered once a month, via Zoom.
  • Two field days.
  • A 3-day face to face, non-residential final assessment course.
  • For successful candidates; two references for a bat survey licence.
  • As a BATS RTS alumni, you will also get access to our annual free CPD and networking day.

Two-year study package

For those who want to spread their training over two years, we have split our training content into year 1 introduction to bat surveying and year 2 intermediate bat survey skills. 

Introduction to bat surveying

This package contains all of the following training content and assessments:

  • Legislation, licensing and planning
  • Considerations for bat surveys
  • Preliminary ecological appraisal for bats 
  • Bat roost inspection surveys
  • Bat identification and handling (theory)
  • Emergence/re-entry surveys – structures and trees
  • Bat activity and back tracking surveys  
  • Bat echolocation call analysis
  • Writing bat reports

What do you get:

  • Personal development review meetings with two trainers at the beginning, middle and end of your training. 
  • Access to online Q&A sessions with a trainer.
  • Four 1-day online training sessions, delivered via Zoom.
  • One field day.
Intermediate bat surveys skills

This package contains all of the following training content and assessments:

  • Bat biology and ecology (Ecological considerations for bat surveys)
  • Bat roost inspection surveys – trees
  • Bat roost mitigation
  • Advanced Licence Bat Surveys (theory)

What do you get:

  • Personal development review meetings with two trainers at the beginning, middle and end of your training. 
  • Access to online Q&A sessions with a trainer.
  • Four 1-day online training sessions, delivered via Zoom.
  • One field day.
Final assessment course

Once the online sessions, field days and theoretical assessments have been completed, and you have achieved the necessary prerequisites (see below), you can then attend the final assessment course.

What do you get:

  • 3-day face to face, non-residential final assessment course. During this course we will prepare and assess you on; surveys of building and trees; handling and identification; and use of endoscopes and hand nets. 
  • As a BATS RTS alumni, you will also get access to our annual free CPD and networking day.

Cost of two-year package (payment packages are available):

Early-bird rate £2800 (bookings made before 31st August).

Non-early-bird rate £3000 (bookings made after 31st August).

Individual training courses and assessments

For trainees who have sufficient experience in some areas, it is possible to purchase just the courses you require. Where trainees do not require training on a particular topic, they are still required to pass the assessment to prove competence. Please contact us for further details and costs if this route is of interest.

Mist nets

When do I have to pay?

We offer the option to pay in installments, the most typical approach is to pay in three installments. Please contact us for more information.

What next?

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your training needs. 

Will finds a bat on a training course

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