Who would ever have thought that Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl and Cool Britannia rock star Noel Gallagher would have something in common.
Though fans of the DC comic hero Batman might recognise a clue in the headline.
For the man who oversees Gloucestershire Constabulary and former leader of the multi-million selling band Oasis have both had major re-development plans disrupted by bats – the Constabulary’s proposed new learning and development and conference centre at Berkeley and work on the star’s mansion in Hampshire.
Bats at Berkeley – one of the pipistrelles discovered by contractors ‘stripping-out’
PCC Martin Surl said, “You couldn’t make it up. I thought it was a joke when I first heard about it”.
But it was no laughing matter when the contractor, stripping out the former nuclear power station site at Berkeley at the start of its multi-million pound makeover, discovered animal droppings. Following several visits and weeks of analysis, scientists from Bristol based First Ecology established the samples were from the UK’s smallest and most common bat, the pipistrelle.
The discovery could have held-up work on the new look ‘Sabrina Centre’ for months as a colony of bats in hibernation would have stopped work for the winter. Instead, ecologists were able to determine it was only an itinerant roost. The tiny mammals were coming and going of their own accord and did not have a permanent habitat.
With careful planning, they were accommodated elsewhere on the site and the redevelopment work continued under licence from Natural England.
Mr. Surl said, “I suppose it’s one of the potential hazards with any building work. How often do you hear of big building projects held-up by a band of newts or a nest of birds?
“It’s a very British thing and absolutely right that we pay due regard to the environment. That’s why ‘A Green and Pleasant County’ is one of my Police and Crime Plan commitments.
“The contractor, Wilmott Dixon, did all the right things. They sought the best advice to ensure the bats were safeguarded and work has continued with only minimal disruption”.
Paul Rice, Construction Manager said: ‘‘We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously, which is why we had to suspend work while we investigated the droppings.
“We all breathed a sigh of relief when we found out it was only an itinerant roost. Since the successful move of the bats we are now pushing forward at pace in the construction on the new centre’’
There is, however, no report of the usually outspoken Mr. Gallagher’s reaction to the discovery of an active roost, thought to include the rarer brown long-eared variety, on his land.