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Nature conservation orders (NCOs)

What are NCOs?

Nature conservation orders are a means to protect the natural features of specific areas of land from damage.  They may be used when other means to protect these areas are inadequate.   

NCOs are made under the provisions of Chapter 2 (section 23 to 28) of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 external site for SSSIs, and under regulations 19 and 20 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations external site 1994 (as amended) for Natura sites.  Infringement of an NCO is a strict offence.

Where may NCOs be made?

NCOs may make illegal specified activities in specified areas and at specified times. The land on which an NCO may be made must be part of:

  • an SSSI,
  • a Natura site,
  • any land outside a SSSI or Natura site which the Scottish Ministers consider to be of special interest for its natural features, or
  • any land contiguous with or otherwise associated with any of the above types of land.

Where are NCOs in force?

Scottish Natural Heritage must report to the Scottish Ministers on the NCOs in force.  This is done as part of our annual report. 

In 2010/11 the Scottish Ministers reviewed all NCOs  PDF document   after which they retained 9 and revoked 14.

There are currently 9 NCOs in force.