Parliament told no solution at hand for church bat crisis: The Church of England Newspaper, July 28, 2013, p 6. August 1, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: bats, church architecture, Second Church Estates Commissioner
Bats are destroying British churches, the Second Church Estates Commissioner Sir Tony Baldry told Parliament. Speaking in response to a question from the member for Bury North, Mr. David Nuttall (Cons.) on the “ effects of bats in churches”, on 4 July 2013 Sir Tony said the “present situation” of 6400 churches infested with bats was “simply unsustainable.”
“A small number of bats living in a church can be manageable, but parish churches are finding an increasing number of bats taking up residence in large roosts. There are significant costs in financial and human terms to those who worship in these churches, and to the wider community,” he said.
Sir Tony noted “Parish churches have to raise the money for bat litigation at considerable cost to their community, and that can prevent their own mission and ministry,” citing the case of St Hilda’s Ellerburn which had spent “a total of £29,000 so far, which is a significant sum for a small congregation to finance.”
“As yet, there is no resolution in sight,” to the bat problem, he said. However the member for Bristol East, Ms. Kerry McCarthy (Lab.) rose to speak on behalf of bats, asking if the Church Commissioners would foster dialogue between the Bat Conservation Trust and the Church Buildings Council?
Sir Tony responded this was not “an issue that can be managed. Large numbers of churches are being made unusable by large numbers of bats roosting in them. Churches are not field barns; they are places of worship”
He added that he had “a number of letters from clergy up and down the country saying how distressing it was for them, before they could celebrate communion on Sunday, to have to clear bat faeces and bat urine off the altar and the communion table. That is not acceptable.”
He told the House bat infestation was “not a joking matter. This is serious and people have to understand that. I am grateful for the attention paid to this issue by the Under-Secretary. We are making real progress, but we need to ensure that [churches] can continue to be places of worship and are not closed as a consequence of bat faeces and bat urine.”