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Jo Lucas is AWE’s resident Batwoman.
By day, she is an AWE environmental adviser, but by night she cares for sick bats. When Jo joined AWE she had no idea she would be able to combine her love of bats with her day job.
But that is exactly what happened because she had a skill set the company needed – her bat knowhow.
There are 17 known breeding species of bats in the UK and at least nine are found in Berkshire, which means there are potentially a number of bat roosts across AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield.
Bats are a protected species under EU law. This legislation makes it an offence to impact a bat’s ability to survive in any way.
Essentially, AWE needs licensed bat workers to help with permitting developments where bats may be present.
Bat workers are tasked with supporting our onsite ecologist in surveying and monitoring potential bat roosts.
"There is still much to learn about UK bats and many questions remain unanswered for now. It is a rapidly-developing sector with a very interesting network of people. These factors continue to make involvement with bats really rewarding.”
Jo’s experience means she can rehabilitate injured bats and release them back into the wild. Last year she rescued a female brown long-eared bat who was found injured. Jo was able to bring the injured animal home to recuperate. After a few weeks of feeding and watering, the animal was well enough to be released back into the wild.
There are no current estimates of the number of bats at AWE.
Bats aren’t very fussy animals and can fit in a gap small enough to hold two fingertips. This means they can turn up anywhere, which makes Jo’s role very important.
She added: “AWE is extremely considerate of protected species. All developments are required to consider their impact on protected species prior to commencement.
“There are several known roosts onsite and numerous bat boxes which are monitored. The ponds and wooded areas in particular are hotspots for foraging bats and are likely to attract a variety of bat species.”