Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Non-native species

Non-native species

There are several thousand non-native species in the UK. A minority pose serious ecological or economic threats and are described as invasive non-native species. For example, Japanese knotweed causes problems for the construction and transport infrastructure sectors.

New species are being introduced to Europe, for example through trade, horticulture, landscaping, transport of goods, etc. There is a risk of introducing new invasive species that will become problems in the future.

In Northern Ireland

Unless you obtain a licence to do so, it is an offence in Northern Ireland to release into the wild, or allow to escape into the wild, an animal that is:

It is also an offence if you plant or cause to grow in the wild certain listed species of plant

You must apply to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) for any exceptions to these provisions.
Contact your environmental regulator

In Scotland

Unless you obtain a licence to do so, it is an offence in Scotland to:

  • release an animal to a place outwith its native range
  • allow an animal to escape from captivity to a place outwith its native range
  • otherwise cause an animal (outwith the control of a person) to be at a place outwith its native range. plant a plant in the wild outwith its native range
  • otherwise cause a plant to grow in the wild outwith its native range

The licensing authority for this is the Scottish Natural Heritage.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)

More information on these offences, your responsibilities and some exceptions can be found in:
Scottish Government: Code of Practice on Non-Native Species

Further information

Scottish Government: Non-native species

DAERA: Invasive alien species

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NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms