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Do Bats Really Pose More Danger to Churches than the Reformation Did?

One British MP says an environmental directive puts medieval art and architecture at risk.

British churches are under siege—or so says Tony Baldry, who represents the Church of England in Parliament.

Image: mira66 / Flickr

According to Baldry in a debate at Westminster Hall last week, churches that "survived the ravages of the Reformation" now are under attack by bats, which are ruining sculptures and artifacts with their urine and feces. Yet, as a result of the European Commission's Habitats Directive, which prohibits the wilfull destruction of bat habitats and breeding sites, churches are powerless to stop these pesky intruders.

Baldry warned that churches are in danger of being overrun by bat roosts—and some churches even face closure over the excessive maintenance costs.

"Importantly, churches are places of worship; they are not field barns," he stated. "I fully appreciate that one of the challenges for bats is that some of their natural habitat is threatened, but there has to be a balance."

British environment minister Richard Benyon responded to Baldry's concerns by saying the Habitats Directive was not intended to "render places of worship unusable to congregations or to impose unreasonable financial burdens to those congregations."

Benyon also told Parliament that the Government currently is testing new technologies that could deter bats from nesting in church belfries. He also suggested that churches contact the National Bat Helpline to obtain advice on how to control the damage.

Posted:July 3, 2013 at 9:43AM
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