A man who admitted destroying a roost for a protected species of bat has been ordered by a court to pay more than £7,000.

Iain Russell Turner, 50, admitted damaging or destroying the breeding site or resting place of a European protected species of animal when he appeared at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court.

He was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court.

The court heard how an ecologist survey was a carried out at his north Dorset home in September 2018 as part of refurbishment work.

The ecologist discovered there was a bat roost in a log store, and they informed Turner about this. He was told further surveys would need to be conducted.

However Turner went on to demolish the log store.

A report by a second ecologist found no signs of a bat roost as the log store had already been demolished by Turner. A Negative Bat Check document was issued and this was subsequently used by Turner in a planning application in March 2019.

A Dorset Police wildlife crime officer attended the address and informed Turner that an offence may have been committed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

In police interview, Turner, of The Street, Motcombe, admitted that he did not read the report submitted by the first ecologist and did not realise that he would be committing an offence by demolishing the log store without further ecological work.

He was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £425 and a victim surcharge. Turner was also ordered to pay £3,720 for a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) Confiscation Order.

PC Claire Dinsdale, Rural Crime Coordinator for Dorset Police, said: “Bat roosts are protected all year round whether they are present or not under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They also have some of the highest protection under Regulation 43 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

“When the presence of a bat roost is suspected, there is a legal process that must be followed. Works can be licensed and mitigation measures put in place to protect the bats and their roost site to minimise the impact on their population.

“In this case a Natterer’s bat roost has been destroyed. This is a rare species and vulnerable to roost loss through demolition.

“Dorset Police’s Economic Crime Unit has obtained a Proceeds of Crime confiscation order for this bat case. We were the second force in the country to do so in a previous case and we will continue to use these powers when a defendant is shown to have financially benefitted from wildlife crime.”

Pete Charleston, Conservation Wildlife Crime Officer at the Bat Conservation Trust, said: “This case demonstrates why bat crime is one of the UK Government’s wildlife crime priorities.

“It is therefore disappointing to hear of a roost used by this species having been illegally and needlessly destroyed. The sanctions imposed at court amply demonstrates that our wildlife is valued and that those who choose to persecute it will be held to account.”

Mark Gammon, senior lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service and Wildlife Specialist Prosecutor said: “Natterer Bats are a rare protected species and Iain Turner knew that his outbuilding hosted a roost. He had been notified of this and it was confirmed in an ecologist’s report.

“However, he decided to demolish this log store to have his planning application granted and to avoid further delays to his building work.

“The fact that he claimed having taken great care in removing the log store does not matter as he was not licensed to carry out such work.

“Anyone who damages or destroys the habitat of protected species faces the prospect of prosecution and should be aware of this.”