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EU rules not batty when it comes to churches

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Contrary to several reports in the UK media, EU laws do not prevent churches from taking steps to deal with bat infestations.

Several reports in the UK media claim that EU rules to protect bat populations are putting hundreds of bat-infested churches in England at risk.

The reports quoted Tony Baldry – a Member of Parliament who speaks officially on Church of England issues – as saying the EU Habitats Directive left churches virtually powerless to move bats from their buildings and that some buildings were on the verge of becoming "unsustainable" as places of worship.

Well, the Good News for concerned church-goers is that, although bats are indeed a protected species, EU Member States can in certain cases allow their resting places to be disturbed. One reason for doing this would be to prevent serious damage to property.

The Commission is therefore convinced that it is possible for the UK authorities to protect both bats and churches.

Guidelines and best-practice advice have been developed in many Member States, including in the UK, describing how to deal with these specific situations in a practical way.

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