Protected bats hindering Dutch government’s plans to insulate 2 million homes by 2030

The Dutch government will not reach its target of insulating over 2 million homes by 2030, according to VENIN, the branch organization for insulation companies. The problem is that easily insulated cavity walls are often home to bats, which fall under the Nature Conservation Act, Nieuwsuur reports.

It is forbidden to kill or disturb protected animals in their habitat. So before a cavity wall must be insulated, the homeowners must have a legally required ecological investigation done. That can easily cost 5,000 euros for a residential home – three times higher than the cost of the insulation itself. It also takes months because an ecologist must visit multiple times a year to make sure no bats are living in the wall.

If bats are living in the wall, the province must issue an exemption, and the bats must be relocated in an environmentally friendly manner. That also means thy must be given an alternative place to live.

The Council of State is currently considering a case between the province of Utrecht and an insulation company that allegedly did not do a sufficient investigation into the presence of bats before doing insulation work. According to ecology consultant Roel de Greeff of consultancy and engineering firm Tauw, that could result in bast becoming trapped in the cavity wall and dying slow and horrible deaths.

The Council of State, the Netherlands’ highest administrative court, aims to rule on the bat case before the summer. The association of insulation businesses Isolerend Nederland and the provinces anxiously await that verdict.

“The Netherlands’ insulation plans may be in jeopardy,” Piet-Jan Dijkstra of Isolerend Nederland told Nieuwsuur. “It is sometimes said in the corridors that this will be the new nitrogen debacle.”

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