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Protected animals

Most animals have some level of legal protection. This means that planners and developers need to take special care to avoid harming them.

The following species advice notes for developers are available in a handy pdf format: great crested newt  PDF document , otter  PDF document , wildcat  PDF document , red squirrel  PDF document , pine marten  PDF document and water vole  PDF document . The notes bring together all the latest information and advice, including legal protection, survey methods, mitigation measures and licensing requirements. Further notes are being prepared for other protected species and will appear soon.

The notes are also relevant to land managers planning work under funded schemes such as the agri-environment programme.

Protected species

Although most animals have some level of protection under the law, some have special protection from disturbance and damage and their breeding and resting sites are also protected. The presence or potential presence of animals with special protection is a material consideration in decisions on planning applications.

We provide advice on a wide range of protected species, from whales, dolphins and porpoises to seals and otters, and from bats and badgers to great crested newts.

We provide advice to developers and builders on their responsibilities and on how they can avoid harming protected species.

Proposals that could impact on European Protected Species (such as bats, otter and great crested newt), species on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act as amended (such as red squirrels and water voles) and badgers (Protection of Badgers Act 1992) require the most careful scrutiny.

The presence of protected species rarely means that no development can take place. Mitigation measures, however, are often needed and the timing of works may be affected. Find out more about the legal framework of protection.

Species licensing

If there is reasonable evidence that a protected species is present on site or may be affected by a proposal, their presence must be established. Early surveys and comprehensive mitigation plans are the key to progressing a development proposal that may affect a protected animal.

A licence is required from Scottish Natural Heritage for activities that have the potential to disturb protected species, such as:

  • disturbance for the purpose of development;
  • disturbance for the purpose of survey and research.

 Go to our licensing pages to find out more.

Last updated on Monday 31st October 2016 at 13:56 PM. Click here to comment on this page