A RETIRED builder has admitted damaging a bat breeding site while carrying out renovations at a property in Powys.

John Stephen Price initially denied destroying the breeding site of brown long eared bats, a protected European species, at a property in Garth, near Builth Wells, last July.

Llandrindod Wells Magistrates’ Court heard this week that Price, 68, accepted causing damage to bat roosts found in the loft of two properties, but he had not done so on purpose and his only intention had been to stabilise an unsafe building.

He was due to stand trial after denying the offence, but on Wednesday, November 22, Price changed his plea to guilty.

Prosecutor Adam Warner said between two visits to the Birchfield Cottages and Cae Bedw properties from ecologists in May and July, it was discovered a loft ceiling had been removed and new ceiling joists installed, which had disturbed a maternity roost.


“The case concerns the destruction of a brown long eared bat habitat during renovation works carried out by the defendant on two properties,” said Mr Warner.

“A bat survey was undertaken and located a protected species. One property contained the roost, while next door was used as a flight path and for pre-flight rituals.

“The issue was him causing damage to the roost, but he said damage was only caused to a bat hallway.”

Mr Warner said bats were observed returning to the roost on July 12, 2022, which is “indicative of pups being present”.

“It was a maternity roost,” he said.

“The visit showed a loft ceiling had been removed, which had disturbed the roost. The bats’ darkness and quiet had been removed, while there was light vibration and dust.

“The defendant was advised to reinstate the ceiling on the first floor.”

A Dyfed Powys Police officer visited the site and was shown around by Price.

“He concedes he broke the law by removing the joist,” added Mr Warner.

“He said he didn’t know he needed a licence and admitted he didn’t seek advice. He said he didn’t interfere with the roost, just the hallway, but a survey showed the roost had been destroyed and could no longer be considered a roost.”

Price completed the suggested work by August and inserted a hatch, with Powys County Council subsequently granting planning permission, after work had started without it.

Representing Price, of Roadwood, Maesmynis, Owain Jones said: “The one property had been derelict for years.

“His grandson owns one property, he bought the derelict building to do up for his grandson’s benefit. It was in a state, the floor had caved in, to the point where a sink was found upside down.

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“He deemed it unsafe and he wants to stress he has done all this work to help his grandson, he was trying to make the roof safe for further work and surveys.

“He feels awful when he hears he’s destroyed a roost. He is a proud builder, he has been one all his life. He detests the word ‘destroy’.

“He accepts damage was caused but it was not done on purpose and it was not his intention to destroy anything. His intention was to stabilise an unsafe building.”

Mr Jones added: “The difference is an inspector said initially it was a runway; only in her second statement was it amended to say that bats were roosting in the lofts of both buildings.

“It was an honest mistake. It was negligent rather than malicious.

“Bats returned to the property despite the ceiling being brought down. There was little or no harm caused to the bats, who’ve now left the area of their own accord.”

Magistrates agreed that Price had been negligent rather than malicious. He was fined £323 and told to pay a £129 surcharge and £85 costs.