Harrow Council welcomed the decision to fine a property developer almost £19,000 after it was found guilty of destroying a home inhabited by bats.

Landrose Developments was fined £18,820 at Brent Magistrates’ Court earlier this month after it chose to demolish a detached bungalow in Dennis Lane, Stanmore.

It came after a survey found the presence of pipistrelle bats – a protected species – at the site, and the council noted that its ecological features should be maintained.

Despite its knowledge of the bats’ presence, the company razed the home to the ground, which breached the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

Cllr Keith Ferry, deputy leader of Harrow Council, said: “I welcome the action taken by the police and the courts to protect our heritage and wildlife.

“I am appalled that anyone would ignore their stewardship of this important, protected species.

“The state rightly protects certain structures because of their architectural, historical or ecological importance.

“I hope this huge fine ensures other custodians of similar properties are aware of their responsibilities and the consequences of illegal and criminal activity.”

This is thought to be just the second-ever case of its kind in London, while, prior to this decision, the biggest fine for destroying a bat roost was £5,000.

The police explained that it is illegal to capture, injure, kill or disturb a European protected species, which includes all 18 species of UK bats, or destroy their breeding site or resting place.

DC Sarah Bailey, from the Metropolitan Police’s wildlife crime unit, said: “Sadly bat roosts are destroyed every year and go unreported to police.

“I would urge anyone who is aware of this criminality taking place, to report it to police.”