Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Environmental damage to biodiversity

Environmental damage to biodiversity

The Environmental Liability Regulations force businesses to take action to prevent environmental damage and to remedy any damage they cause. They apply to any environmental damage that occurred from:

  • 24 July 2009 in Northern Ireland
  • 24 June 2009 in Scotland.

Biodiversity damage is classed as environmental damage if it causes:

  • a significant harmful effect on the conservation status of a European Union (EU) protected species or habitat
  • in Northern Ireland, a harmful effect on the ecological structure and function of an area of special scientific interest (ASSI), for example manure spreading on protected grassland


You do not have to be at fault to be liable for environmental damage.

In Northern Ireland you are also liable for environmental damage to protected species and habitats if you intended to cause damage or were negligent. This applies to damage to ASSIs.

For more information on environmental damage, including to land and water, see our guideline: Environmental damage

Further information

DAERA: Environmental liability regulations

DAERA: Map of designated sites in Northern Ireland

SEPA: Environmental liability regulations

NatureScot: Sitelink: Map of designated sites in Scotland

In this Guideline

How conservation and biodiversity relate to your business

How businesses rely on natural resources and services

Protected sites and priority habitats

Protected and priority species

Non-native species

Environmental damage to biodiversity

Managing biodiversity: Establish the baseline

Managing biodiversity: Create a site action plan

Managing biodiversity: Measure performance

Work with other organisations on biodiversity

Conservation and biodiversity legislation

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