The plans for Exmouth’s new £5million police station have suffered a setback because bats – a protected species – may be present at the site.

A planning application for the new building was submitted to East Devon District Council in December 2023 by the office of Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez.

But after evidence emerged that bats may be roosting in gaps in the cladding on the existing building, the council’s planning officers said a further survey is needed before they can officially register the application.

This survey would have to take place during the bats’ summer roosting season, which is May to  September.

Exmouth Journal: Exmouth Police Station

On Monday (January 9) Ms Hernandez posted on X (formerly Twitter) to say:

“Bats stall my office’s planning application for the new #Exmouth Police Station. I have to wait until roosting season May-Sept to carry out a survey before East Devon District Council will even register the planning application. It’s driving me batty! Can’t blame the bats though.”

She later posted again to ‘bat’ off accusations that she was planning to break the rules on bat conservation in order to push the project forward, clarifying that she ‘was was making a joke about being batty and didn’t want bat lovers to think I was against bats!’

In a media statement she said: “I am disappointed for the people of Exmouth, and Devon and Cornwall Police’s hard-working officers, staff and volunteers, who have to wait longer to get the police station and Police Enquiry Office which they deserve.

“Devon and Cornwall are full of wonderful nature and that is part of life here. We will, of course, ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to look after any bats and other wildlife found on the site, but Exmouth sees a huge rise in visitor numbers in the summer months and I look forward to a time when we and our force are focussed on our core business of supporting victims rather than surveying bats.”

Exmouth Journal: Alison Hernandez on Exmouth seafront