It is the latest home improvement fad popularised by the homes seen on the programmes from Somerset designer-cum-TV presenter Kevin McCloud.
But while shepherds, environmentalists and energy savers might be falling in love with loft insulation made from 100 per cent natural sheep’s wool, there are some creatures who, it seems, are not fans at all – bats.
For while the tiny flying mammals might love the warmth and softness of a fresh bed of wool in the attics they have called home, their spindly arms and clawed feet don’t – and they get tangled up in it and die.
National and local groups have warned that anyone laying sheep’s wool insulation in their loft should be on the lookout for bats, and might even be committing a criminal offence if they don’t ensure their choice of loft insulation material can’t harm the furry creatures.
The Bat Conservation Trust, the Gloucestershire Bat Group and the Stroud Valleys Project yesterday all warned of the dangers of the natural woollen insulation to their beloved bats, circulating pictures of three pipistrelle bats found dead after becoming entangled in the wool.
“Bats are a protected species and we want to publicise that this might happen and that this material could actually harm them,” said Ivi Szaboova, the biodiversity officer for the Stroud Valleys Project, and member of the Gloucestershire Bat Group.
“The message is that if you are using sheep’s wool insulation, to make sure there are no bats in your loft first. Sheep’s wool insulation is fantastic, as it is a natural alternative to plastic-based or foam-based insulation, and obviously it cuts down on the amount of energy used in a home, but you have to be extra, extra careful.”
The experts are warning that what people should do when they are laying insulation is not to block up the access points for any bats, and even cover it with dust sheets to keep the bats away from the wool.
“There are quite strict laws about protecting their habitats and if you’ve got bats you need to be extra specially careful,” she added.
Modern eco-homes are increasingly built with wool-based insulation in both the lofts and the cavity walls, and more and more people living in existing homes are also using it to insulate their loft instead of the less environmentally-friendly plastic versions. It is advertised both as being a green alternative and being a non-irritant version.
A spokeswoman for the Bat Conservation Trust said: “It appears there are certain types of sheep’s wool insulation which might be more of a problem to bats, and our advice is that if you are doing work in the loft, to check for bats, and if you think you have some, to contact our hotline on 0845 1300 228.”