Protected bats land company with record fine

PUBLISHED: 12:33 05 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:06 26 October 2009

The building company began unlicensed work on a Victorian building - home to hibernating bats.

The building company began unlicensed work on a Victorian building - home to hibernating bats.

A BUILDING company began unlicensed work on a Victorian building home to hibernating bats, a court heard. Multimillion pound developers P J Livesey were hit with a record fine for a wildlife case at Central Herts Magistrates Court in St Albans

A BUILDING company began unlicensed work on a Victorian building home to hibernating bats, a court heard.

Multimillion pound developers P J Livesey were hit with a record fine for a wildlife case at Central Herts Magistrates Court in St Albans on Friday as they pleaded guilty to the charge of destruction of a natural habitat.

The Manchester based company ripped out parts of the ceiling, as well as windows and doors at Essendon Park, Essendon without being granted a licence.

The court heard how bats and their droppings, caked in dust were found in the country house proving that work had gone ahead with hibernating bats in the building.

Prosecutor Mike Dunne outlined the history of the building and told the court about a police investigation that had begun in December 2006.

He explained that roosting brown long-eared and pipistrelle bats had hibernated at the redundant site ever since 1991.

Upon purchasing the property P J Livesey did not obtain the Natural England Bat Licence required but continued with the build, told Mr Dunne.

He went on to inform District Judge Gillian Allison that two ecologist reports were filed.

The initial report by ecologist Steven Lawrence highlighted the importance of the bat roost.

Mr Dunne said that he was “concerned” that a second ecologist John Goldsmith, four months later said “that it was not important at all”.

No representative was present for P J Livesey but instead the court was read a letter from the company pleading guilty to the charge.

“Our client fully acknowledges that the nature of the work that was carried out should not have been carried out without the appropriate licence,” it read.

District Judge Gillian Allison said: “PJ Livesey, in my opinion, knew full well that a licence was required but carried out the work without the necessary licence.”

She claimed that “damage has been done” and issued a fine of £3,500 with costs of £2,000.

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