Council workers in Flintshire have been left in a flap after a series of close encounters with bats.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed around 26 bats have been discovered flying around offices at the local authority’s main HQ in Mold.
It includes one pipistrelle that got stuck on fly paper at County Hall and had to have glue washed off it.
The most frequent part of the building they infiltrated was the sixth floor, where 20 were located in total, with one seen in the main reception area and another in a car park stairwell at nearby Theatr Clwyd.
All of the winged creatures were released back into the wild after either being caught by trained officers or leaving of their own accord through an open window in a string of incidents since 2010.
[Picture shows some of the bat roosts discovered at County Hall in Mold. Source: Stuart Spray Wildlife Consultancy]
The council recently commissioned a report by wildlife experts which uncovered at least 13 roosts in empty parts of the complex it is preparing to demolish, as well as around 100 other possible locations they could settle.
Following an inspection carried out using ropes and harnesses towards the end of last year, ecologist Stuart Spray said steps should be taken to protect the bats before any of the structures are knocked down.
He said: “It was clear from the ground that there were several gaps around the windows that may have had potential for roosting bats.
“In addition, the Flintshire county ecologist reported that bats had been recorded flying inside the building on several occasions indicating a high likelihood of a bat roost somewhere in the building complex.
“The presence of fresh bat droppings identified thirteen bats roosts.
“Although no live bats were observed, it was not possible to fully inspect all of the roost cavities as they were too deep and complicated.
“In addition to the thirteen confirmed bat roosts there were many, possibly over 100, other features recorded with potential for roosting bats in the summer and winter.
“As a result the building complex was assessed being of high potential for roosting bats in the summer and for hibernating bats in the winter.”
Due to the high number of potential roosting spots, Mr Spray recommended that only a soft demolition of the offices should be carried out.
The buildings earmarked for removal were vacated last year when hundreds of staff were relocated to the old Unilever site on St David’s Park, Ewloe.
Officials said the Mold base, which was built in 1968, had become expensive to run and described the newly named Ty Dewi Sant as ‘modern and cost effective’.
Mr Spray said bat roosts should be put up on the remaining parts of the civic headquarters as an alternative during the demolition and a licensed bat worker should be on hand to provide advice.
[Wildlife experts looking for bats at County Hall in Mold. Source: Stuart Spray Wildlife Consultancy]
Flintshire Council’s chief officer for housing and assets said a date for the properties to be torn down had not been set.
However, Neal Cockerton added that the suggested mitigation measures would be put in place before the work starts.
He said: “We are fully aware of all the measures that need to be in place to mitigate any impacts on bats and we are working closely with Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
“A start date for the demolition works has not yet been agreed and no works will be undertaken until the required licence has been issued by NRW, however this has been factored in to our plans for the site and no delays have been caused as a result of the presence of bats in the buildings due for demolition.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).