An innovative new ‘bat-friendly’ set of street lights is to be installed in a town in the UK.
I know what you’re thinking, bats are basically blind, right? Do they need street lights? Isn’t that what their super-powered sonar senses are for? Echolocation doesn’t need light, does it? Are these streetlights therefore just going to be off all the time? Are there going to be plenty of perches so the bats can hang upside down as much as they want?
Alright pipe down, let’s do some explaining.
The lights are to be installed near the Warndon Wood in Worcestershire. There will be a 60 metre stretch of the street lights, which will be fitted with red bulbs, as research has shown bats tend to avoid areas lit by white lights.
According to Worcestershire County Council, the area is a ‘corridor’ for bats, and by installing the red lights it will support the local wildlife, encouraging them to use the route rather than avoid the area and use more dangerous areas to fly and hunt.
The council believes it will be the first area of bat-friendly street lights in the UK, as well as the red lights assisting pedestrians in the area.
Worcestershire County Council said similar lighting schemes in the Netherlands had been successful, preserving and protecting various species of bat and other nocturnal wildlife. Councillor Ken Pollock called the red lights a ‘sensible’ opportunity to support bats, BBC News reports.
The adapted lighting may look a little different at first, but we’d like to assure those using the area at night that the colour of the lights has been through stringent testing and adheres to all safety checks.
The council assured the red lighting is safe for drivers and pedestrians, and the scheme is fully compliant with required safety standards.
The red lights are designed to encourage bats to use the area, as research has shown they avoid areas lit by white light as they travel to feeding grounds. By avoiding these areas, bats often use more dangerous routes, which can affect the bat population and feeding habits.
Professor Gareth Jones told the BBC:
The magnitude of the effect was surprising. With the [white] lights on, there was about a quarter to an eighth of the activity – or number of bats flying along the route – compared to when the lights were off.
If bats fly in white light, it also makes them more vulnerable to predators such as birds of prey, as their echolocation is limited when detecting predators, and the lit conditions makes them more visible.
Avoiding predators is one of the main reasons bats are nocturnal, flying in red light will therefore improve safety for the bat, ambassador of darkness, flitting out of his cave like a winged messenger, sightless spectre of the macabre.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.