Bats are wonderful creatures and they need protecting. True, most of us rarely see one and it’s also true that the draconian laws that protect them mean that you wouldn’t wish a bat roost on your worst enemy. Nevertheless, our lives are made poorer by the extinction or geographical marginalisation of native species. I have to say, however, at the risk of offending bat lovers everywhere that the condition of Ellerburn Church when we visited was absolutely deplorable and my heart went out to those who had to watch their one thousand year old place of worship rendered unusable in this way. I suppose the solution was a Solomon-like compromise and I hope it works for the parishioners and the bats.
For anyone wanting to know more about this sorry saga, I suggest following these two links:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8724984/A-church-closed-by-roosting-bats.html. I think you can see which side the Daily Telegraph was on.
http://www.nybats.org.uk/page18.htm. This is the North Yorkshire Bat Group’s response. I can’t help picking out the following paragraph:
“North Yorkshire Bat Group does not dispute that the bats roost in the roof of the building from where they have direct access to the exterior. However, we do not agree that the bats do not need to access the interior. At dusk some of the bats make considerable effort to access the inside of the church from their roost sites in the roof, fly around inside the building for a lengthy period of time and then make considerable efforts to exit the building at the eaves. Just because we don't know why they do this or what subset of the population exhibits this behaviour does not mean that it does not serve some important function to the bats”. Make your own judgement.
Update: January 2018. Mike Stallybrass has given me this information : “Ellerburn successfully got English Heritage to change their national policy regarding bats. It took them several years, but EH ended up funding most of the work that was needed, including a deep, deep clean of the whole building before a wedding”!
So the saga seems to have played out satisfactorily in the end - after a years of posturing, fuss and nonsense that characterises so much of British life nowadays. SO YOU CAN NOW VISIT THIS CHURCH WITHOUT RISKING ASPHYXIATION OR NAUSEA.