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Developer fined for destroying breeding spot of bat

A DEVELOPER was fined yesterday after being found guilty of destroying a breeding roost for a rare bat.

John D Flanagan was ordered to pay over €3,000 in costs and fines after the lesser horseshoe bat disappeared from the roost at the Ballykilty Manor hotel development, near Quin in Co Clare.

The bat is protected under the EU Habitats Directive and planning conditions attached to the development included strict conservation measures for the bat.

The lesser horseshoe bat is one of the world's smallest bats, weighing only five to nine grams, with a wing-span of 192-254mm and a body length of 35-45mm.

In a prosecution, brought by the Environment Minister, Mr Flanagan was accused of damaging or destroying a breeding site or a resting place for the lesser horseshoe bat on dates unknown between June and October 2009.

Mr Flanagan's Atlantis Group had secured planning permission for a five-star hotel at Ballykilty Manor before those dates.

In evidence yesterday at a special sitting of Ennis District Court, David Lyons, a conservation ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, told the court that on a visit to Ballykilty Manor on June 11, 2009, he counted 34 lesser horseshoe bats in a roost located in an out building.

However, he said when he returned four months later, work had been done on the building, including the removal of the ceiling and that all windows and doors had been opened.

Judge Aeneas McCarthy fined Mr Flanagan €500 and ordered him to pay costs of €2,538.

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