Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Recently Added Legislation


The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2019

These Regulations amend the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994, which make provision for the transposition of Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.

Regulation 2 amends schedule 2 of the 1994 Regulations to add the Eurasian Beaver (otherwise known as the European Beaver) to the list of European Protected Species of Animals that are given protection under the 1994 Regulations.

Current Legislation

This page provides links to the full text of key pieces of conservation environmental legislation that may affect your business in Scotland. The websites hosting the legislation may list amendments separately.

Conservation legislation for Scotland sets out measures to conserve and protect wildlife and habitats and sites of special scientific interest (SSSI). It also creates criminal offences for deliberately capturing, killing, disturbing or trading protected animals and picking, collecting, cutting, uprooting, destroying or trading protected plants.

Although previous Acts of Parliament include provisions for nature conservation, the main piece of legislation relating to nature conservation in Great Britain is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This Act is supplemented by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 in Scotland.

Nature conservation is not regulated by the environmental regulators, and the list of legislation that follows is not exhaustive. For a complete list of nature conservation legislation, please contact the UK government conservation bodies.

If you are setting up an environmental management system (EMS) for your business, you can use this list to start compiling your legal register. Your legal adviser or environmental consultant will be able to tell you if other environmental legislation applies to your specific business.

Environmental management systems and environmental reports


The Alien and Locally Absent Species in Aquaculture (Scotland) Regulations 2015

Requires a permit to be obtained for the introduction of alien species in aquaculture. Also deals with the movement of species listed in Annex IV of the Council Regulation (EC) No 708/2007, and the translocation of locally absent species within Scotland, or between the rest of the UK and Scotland.

Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994 SI 2716

Makes provisions to conserve natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.

Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2004 SI 475

Amends 1994/2716 to bring the provisions for protection of European 'Natura 2000' sites into line with the protection regime set out in the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. Gives further protection to European protected species.

Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 SI 1843

Amends 1994/2716 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.

Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2007 SSI 80

Amends 1994/2716 to add further measures for conserving European protected species and extend circumstances when it is an offence to disturb, sell or exchange such species or products derived from them.

The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2019

Amends 1994/2716 to add the Eurasian or European beaver (Castor fiber), giving them protected status.

Conservation of Seals (Scotland) Order 2007 SSI 126

Bans killing, injuring or taking common seals in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, surrounding territorial waters and the territorial sea around the east coast of Scotland from Garron Point in the north to Torness Point in the south.

Deer (Scotland) Act 1996

Consolidates deer legislation in Scotland.

Environment Act 1995

Establishes the Environment Agency and SEPA as the regulatory bodies for contaminated land, control of pollution, conservation or enhancement of the environment and fisheries.

Environmental Liability (Scotland) Regulations 2009

Brings into force rules to force polluters to prevent and repair damage to water systems, land quality, species and their habitats and protected sites. The polluter does not have to be prosecuted first, so remedying the damage should be faster.

Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003

Establishes a right to be on land for recreational, educational and some other purposes and cross land (right to roam) if rights are exercised responsibly. Also details how rural and crofting organisations can buy land they are connected with.

National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000

Establishes National Parks in Scotland, including setting up National Park Authorities, their powers, finances and "management agreements" between National Park Authority landowners or occupiers.

Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991

Establishes Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) as the main body responsible for securing and promoting the conservation of Scotland's natural scenery, flora and fauna.

Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006

Establishes Natural England as the main body responsible for conserving, enhancing and managing England's natural environment. It also covers biodiversity, pesticides harmful to wildlife and the protection of birds.

Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004

Deals with the conserving biodiversity and protecting and enhancing Scotland's natural features. Also amends rules on protecting certain birds, animals and plants.

The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 (Authorised Operations) Order 2016

Lists types of operation that can be carried out without the consent of SNH under sections 13 or 16 of the 2004 Act. This includes licenced muirburn and operations to control or eradicate invasive species in accordance with a species control order Made under the section 14d of the Wildlife and countryside Act 1981.

Protection of Badgers Act 1992

Makes it an offence to wilfully kill, injure, take, or attempt to kill or take a badger. Also sets out the exceptions, licences, enforcement and penalties for this offence.

Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002

Makes it illegal to hunt a wild mammal with a dog - eg fox and deer hunting - or for a landowner or occupier to knowingly allow another person to hunt a wild mammal with a dog, or to allow another person to use the dog to hunt a wild mammal.

Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003

Sets out which fishing methods are allowed and dates of salmon and trout fishing seasons. Details offences relating to and the administration of salmon and freshwater fisheries.

Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 SI 69

Bans certain methods of killing or taking wild animals, including birds, and restricts the introduction and sale of certain non-native animals and plants. Also sets out the amended laws relating to public rights of way.

Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1991

Makes minor amendments to 1981/69.

Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011

Amends several acts to introduce tougher powers against wildlife crimes. Imposes stricter regulations on animal snares, including the training of operators. Landowners may be made accountable if their employees kill or take a wild bird.

Environmental News Blog

NetRegs on NetRegs on youTube

View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.

NetRegs Update Newsletter

Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland

Sign up for free today!


NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms