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Rural Land & Business

Sites of Special Scientific Interest – A Tougher Approach?

Following the news of a significant fine being handed out to a landowner by Natural England for a relatively minor infringement on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it is clear that there has been a toughening up in Natural England’s approach to Potentially Damaging Operations on SSSI’s by Landowners and their staff.   Third party damage usually results in a warning letter, as responsibility is difficult to prove.

It is a criminal offence for any person to intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy any of the features of special interest of a SSSI, or to disturb the flora or fauna for which the site was notified.

Landowners should remember that, if your SSSI is deemed to be suffering as a result of a lack of positive management or neglect, and you cannot reach a voluntary agreement with Natural England; more formal legal methods may be pursued, such as serving management schemes and management notices. In the most extreme cases, powers of compulsory purchase may be used as a last resort to maintain the special interest of the SSSI.

It is important to ensure that all employees and contractors are aware that each SSSI has an individual list of operations requiring consent from Natural England. Should you wish to undertake any such operations, a written consent must be completed, submitted to your local Natural England office and approved prior to any works taking place.

For help and advice to manage your SSSI or any other Environmental Stewardship Scheme or designation, please contact Phil Scott-Priestley, Director, Leyburn Office T: 01969 600120 www.gscgrays.co.uk

Philip Scott Preiestly -GSC Grays

Article by

Phil Scott-Priestley
MRICS
Director

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