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Volume 591: debated on Thursday 29 January 2015

7. What steps have been taken in co-ordination with Natural England to exclude bats from churches where they are causing significant damage to the fabric of church buildings. (907280)

We are working hard with Natural England to seek to ensure an appropriate licensing regime and to develop equipment that can cost-effectively deter bats from roosting in churches where they may cause damage.

I know that my right hon. Friend is very concerned about this as well. Those of us who like bats also know they should not be desecrating our extremely valuable architectural heritage, as they are doing, as he knows, in a church on the edge of my constituency, St Nicholas’s in Stanford on Avon.

I think the sensible thing to do is for me to ask the chair of Natural England if he will come with me to visit St Nicholas’s in Stanford on Avon, because it is obviously a church with many difficulties. When I stand down from this House in March, at the request and invitation of the archbishops I am going to take on the role of chair of the Church Buildings Council, and I hope that then I can add my substantial weight to trying to ensure that the problem of bats at St Nicholas’s in Stanford on Avon is resolved.