Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Many areas with distinctive plants, animals, habitats, geology or landforms are protected at the international, European, national and local level. Some habitats have been identified as needing priority conservation action.
If you own or work at a site that is in or next to a protected area or priority habitat, you're likely to face tighter restrictions on what activities and developments you can carry out at the site. You may need to:
Sites which are protected at an international level include Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Ramsar sites.
Sites protected at a national level include National Nature Reserves, Marine Nature Reserves and Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) in Northern Ireland or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Scotland.
Local Nature Reserves are protected statutorily at a local level.
If you are an owner or an occupier within any of these protected areas, you can get advice about your responsibilities from either:
In the case of an ASSI or SSSI, the NIEA in Northern Ireland, or NatureScot in Scotland, may draw up a management agreement with you to assist with good management of the site.
Local councils adopt sites that are important to local wildlife. These may be called Local Wildlife or Geological Sites, County Wildlife Sites, Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation, Sites of Biological Interest or other names. These are often in brownfield and urban areas.
While local authority site designation does not provide statutory protection, it will be taken into account if you apply for planning permission. If your business activities are likely to affect a locally designated site, the local authority will expect you to:
You can check whether your land is a local site by contacting your local council ecology team or biodiversity information centre, or the Ulster Wildlife Trust or Scottish Wildlife Trust.
In addition to protected sites, a number of habitats have been designated as ones requiring priority conservation action under:
You can check whether you have one of these habitat types on your land:
If you do, you should liaise with the following organisations over the measures you can take to conserve them:
Protected sites and priority habitats
View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.