CO CLARE developer John Declan Flanagan was yesterday ordered in court to pay more than €3,000 between costs and a fine after he was found guilty of destroying a breeding roost for the rare lesser horseshoe bat.
The bat is protected under the EU habitats directive and planning conditions attached to the development of Mr Flanagan's Ballykilty Manor hotel development near Quin involved strict conservation measures for the bat.
The lesser horseshoe bat is one of the world's smallest bats, weighing only 5-9g, with a wingspan of 192-254mm and a body length of 35-45mm.
In a prosecution brought by the Minister for the Environment, Mr Flanagan, Ballyvara House, Doolin, was accused, on dates unknown between June 11th, 2009, and October 14th, 2009, at Ballykilty Manor of damaging or destroying a breeding site or a resting place for the bat.
Mr Flanagan's Atlantis Group had secured permission for a fivestar hotel with 44 bedrooms, leisure facilities, function room, bar and restaurant on a 50-acre site with 14 holiday lodges.
In evidence 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 June 11th, 2009, he counted 34 lesser horseshoe bats in a roost in an outbuilding at the manor.
However, on visiting the property that October 14th, he recorded that in the building containing the maternity roost, works had been carried out that involved the removal of the ceiling and all windows and doors had been opened. Mr Lyons said there were no longer any bats present.
Judge Aeneas McCarthy fined Mr Flanagan €500, ordered him to pay costs of €2,538 and fixed recognisance in the event of an appeal.