Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
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.
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 NIEA wildlife team for any exceptions to these provisions.
You can complete an application for a Wildlife Licence online at:
You can also get in touch by email at: BCSGeneral@daera-ni.gov.uk or call: 028 9056 9558
New Legislation relating to invasive species
The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order (Northern Ireland) 2019 (“the Enforcement Order”) came into force on 1 December 2019.
This relates to The Regulation (EU) No. 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species ("the Principal Regulation") which came into force on 1 January 2015.
It imposes strict restrictions on a list of species known as ‘species of Union concern’. These are species whose potential adverse impacts across the European Union are such that concerted action across Europe is required.
The restrictions mean that (subject to certain defences, or exemptions through permits or licences) species of Union concern cannot be imported into the EU, kept, bred, transported, placed on the market, used or exchanged, allowed to reproduce, grown or cultivated, or released into the environment.
Unless you obtain a licence to do so, it is an offence in Scotland to:
The licensing authority for this is NatureScot
More information on these offences, your responsibilities and some exceptions can be found in:
Scottish Government: Code of Practice on Non-Native Species
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