Southern Co-op stores provide homes for protected bat species

‘We wanted to make sure we protected the bat population and gave them a home for the future’

Southern Co-op is helping protected bat species by installing bat boxes on two of its local convenience stores. 

The stores, in Titchfield and Bishops Waltham in Hampshire, had the boxes fitted to house local bat populations. A bat tile – with a hole just big enough for a long-eared bat to access – was also fitted to the roof of the Titchfield store to help bats use the building’s loft area.

Southern Co-op carried out the conservation work after commissioning a number of surveys last year. In Titchfield, the surveys found three species of bat foraging and commuting within the local area: the common pipistrelle, the noctule and the (brown or grey) long-eared bat, all of which are European protected species. The common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle were found in the Bishops Waltham area.

One of the bat boxes installed by the co-op

According to the Bat Conservation Trust, in the UK, bat populations have declined considerably over the last century and are still under threat. They play several roles in the environment, including helping to pollinate flowers, spread seeds and control pests by eating insects.

Related: Southern Co-op takes steps to reduce carbon footprint

Emma McVie, Southern Co-op’s project manager, said: “When we were looking at replacing the roof in Titchfield, the age of the building meant there was a high likelihood of bats being present and this was confirmed during one of the surveys, when a single common pipistrelle was recorded emerging from beneath a lifted roof tile to the rear of the building.

“We made sure we protected them and their access to the loft when we finally replaced the roof in March. We also placed an extra bat box on the side of the building to give other bats a new home should they need one.

“Despite not finding roosting bats, we wanted to make sure we protected the bat population and gave them a home for the future, so we have installed two bat boxes on the side of the building.

In line with its commitment to protecting the environment, Southern Co-op launched a five year plan for a sustainable business earlier this year.