A Caerphilly builder has been found guilty of illegally destroying three bat roosts during a roof removal job in Gelligaer in a crime which has been described as "shocking".

Robert Roberts received a 12-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay costs of £111 at Newport Magistrates Court on March 25.

The court heard that Roberts had failed to acquire a necessary license from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) before removing the property roof.

The bats, Common, Soprano Pipistrelles, and Whiskered varieties, are listed as priority species under UK and European Wildlife law, necessitating a European Protected Species License for any work which could disrupt their roosts.

According to an independent ecological survey, these roosts were identified at the Alpine Cottage ahead of the roof removal work.

Roberts failed to secure the required licence, and therefore violated the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

In court, he attributed this lapse to a "breakdown in communication" between him and the property owner, resulting in premature roof removal.

Roberts further claimed the bats had returned, asserting that the bats had not suffered any harm.

However, the absence of a licence meant ecological support during the roof demolition was also missing.

An onsite ecologist would typically monitor these operations to ensure the safety of any bats potentially present at the site.

PC Mark Powell on secondment with Natural Resources Wales Industry Regulation team said: "Officers from NRW are successfully working with police forces across Wales, and the National Wildlife Crime Unit to investigate and prosecute those responsible for committing wildlife and rural crime offences.

"The ecologists that compiled the original survey at the address confirmed that there were three separate roosts present and two of those roosts, they allege, were maternity roosts.

"This destruction of confirmed bat roosts without ecological onsite support and without the European Protected Species Licence, is shocking.

"The loss of two maternity roosts is simply devastating and whilst it is fortunate that bats have returned to the address, the potential loss of a full years’ breeding cycle may have impacted the species in the local area.

"Legislation is in place and is designed to protect our already dwindling protected native species.

"The conservation of bats, and other protected species, must be ensured if future generations are to benefit from their continued existence."

PC Powell further encouraged the public to report any environmental incidents to the NRW's Incident communication line, accessible 24/7 on 0300 065 3000.