Rare Bats Benefit from Friendly Lighting
Bat-friendly lighting is installed along a thriving Worcestershire riverside to aid the feeding patterns of a rare bat colony.
Best known for its magnificent red sandstone cathedral and world-renowned porcelain, the ancient city of Worcester, is also home to a rare species of bat, known as the lesser horseshoe bat.
This species has seen a decline in numbers and is limited to Wales, Western England and Western Ireland, Worcestershire is near the very northern edge of this species global distribution.
An ecology survey revealed that the vulnerable species were roosting near Worcester Cathedral alongside the River Severn, a popular stretch of the riverside used by pedestrians, cyclists and commuters.
Sadly, roost monitoring revealed the horseshoe bats, a species notably sensitive to disturbance and intolerant of strong lighting, were decreasing in numbers.
Worcester City’s historic waterfront has benefited from significant investment and regeneration, including improved surfacing to the pathways and new lighting. As well as being a great piece of green infrastructure the upgraded route makes for thriving commuter access for people living on the west bank of the river to walk or cycle into the city to work.
The Riverside lighting, designed to work even if the walkway is subjected to flooding, has enhanced the route for pedestrians and cyclists at night-time. Unfortunately, a short section of the bollard lighting was found to be located just outside the lesser horseshoe bat’s roost. Lesser horseshoe bats tend to fly close to the ground, avoid light and prefer uninterrupted flight paths, meaning that bollard lighting posed a major problem.
Local ecologists revealed that the lighting was impacting on the bat’s ability to return to their roost under the cathedral and disperse to feed amongst nearby vegetation.
Worcestershire County Council recognised they had a legal1 and moral obligation to protect the rare bat species2 whilst maintaining a safe and attractive public environment. Initially, they undertook a lighting experiment during the summer months when the bats are most active.
The decision was made to switch off the lighting bollards outside the bat roost during dusk and dawn to avoid disturbing the rare mammals.
The council approached Lakeside Group to install approximately 40 environmentally friendly solar light studs (solareye®80) across a six metre stretch of the Riverside. Each solar stud was fitted with a ‘bat hat’ designed to reduce the upward light spillage thus reducing the potential impact on the rare bat colony.
The solar powered LED delineator has been designed in the UK to provide wayfinding light and requires little to no maintenance, therefore providing a cost-effective solution.
“A citizen science project organised by Worcestershire County Council and Worcestershire Bat Group has found a modest but positive trend in numbers within the colony.
Volunteer surveyors and professional ecologists count the bats as they emerge from their roost and forage alongside Worcester City’s beautiful riverside meadows. Pleasingly, the lesser horseshoe bats, alongside a wealth of other species, have been recorded exploiting their ‘dark corridor’ and are now a regular wildlife feature to be found living alongside the City’s bustling evening commuters and sightseers.”
Cody Levine, Ecology Team Leader, Worcestershire County Council
“The solareye®80 are excellent value, simple and quick to install and being solar, do not require any electrical connections or power. They are also maintenance-free.
There was a slight concern over their recharge capacity, especially those that are set back under thick horsechestnut tree canopies, but two years later, they are still going strong!
The solareye®80 caught the attention of a Development Control Colleague, who recommended their use to a Developer. As a result, they have also been installed further along the Riverside at the Diglis Oil Basin housing development.
The solareye®80 are virtually invisible during the day, are very robust and become a feature at night-time, lighting the walkway between the trees and the River Severn. We would highly recommend solareye®80 and will certainly promote their inclusion in further projects.”
Kate Passant, Project Manager, Worcestershire County Council
Want to find out more?
Full brief can be downloaded here
If you have an area that requires night time delineation or way marking, installation of the solareye®80 is:
- Simple to install and maintenance free
- Cost effective, thanks to low installation costs
- Certified waterproof (IP68) and vandal-proof/ impact resistance (IK10)
Want to discuss a project in more detail?