A PROPERTY developer has been prosecuted after a bat roost was unlawfully demolished in York.

North Yorkshire Police led the investigation with support from Bat Conservation Trust and City of York Council, into the demolition of buildings at North Lodge, Clifton Park Avenue.

A planning application was submitted to the council in 2016 by Mike Green on behalf of GEM Holdings (York) Ltd, along with a bat survey report which showed the existing structure contained a small number of non-breeding day roosts for common pipistrelle bats.

Permission was granted, but the report required a European Protected Species License to be obtained prior to the demolition. However, the building was demolished, but no bat licence had been granted or sought from Natural England, and the matter was reported to North Yorkshire Police.

Green appeared before York Magistrates' Court on Thursday, September 6, and pleaded guilty to one charge of destroying a bat roost.

He was fined £910 with additional costs and victim surcharge.

Sergeant Kevin Kelly, head of the force's rural and wildlife crime, team said: "Again we see ourselves at the end of another wildlife crime that could have been avoided. Crimes of this nature are so disappointing because they can be avoided, however Mr Green has received a financial penalty that reflects his poor decision making.

"Hopefully this serves as a benchmark for those who have the highest level of responsibility placed upon them to respect our wildlife through responsible and accountable planning and construction. There are many that follow the procedure to distinction, however there will always be the few that will choose poor decision making."

Sgt Kelly said the investigation was "intricate and time consuming", and he had worked with specialist wildlife crime officer PC Ruth Atkins on the prosecution.

He said: "It is important that wildlife crime of all types are treated with the same regard as more traditional and conventional crimes as we know how important being effective in this area is to some members of the public."