Protected Areas Committee

Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas are the focus of the Committee.

The Protected Areas Committee (PAC) advises NatureScot on the work it must do in relation to any:

Tasks in which the Committee is involved include:

  • notification of SSSIs under section 3 of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004
  • extensions to existing SSSIs (under section 5 of the 2004 Act)
  • denotification of some or all of an existing SSSI (under section 9 of the 2004 Act)
  • approving NatureScot advice to the Scottish Government on the suitability of potential Natura sites (i.e. SACs and SPAs)
  • applying the ‘10-year rule’ (under section 21 of the 2004 Act) – NatureScot must consider any valid scientific representation made by the owner/occupier of land within an SSSI, if this is made at least 10 years after the original notification, or 10 years from any previous such referral.

The Committee can take advice from anyone its members deem appropriate.

When our Board is asked to confirm an SSSI notification, the Committee can explain any issues and make recommendations. 

Protected Areas Committee Terms of Reference

PAC meetings

The Committee meets as and when required – usually no more than four times per year. Our Director for Nature and Climate Change may attend the meetings.

Members of the public may attend open session meetings of the PAC as observers.

The Chair may opt for some decisions to be made by correspondence. For example:

  • to keep to the statutory timescales for the notification of an SSSI
  • where a procedural decision is needed for the notification of an SSSI seen as uncontroversial

Published meeting papers, including agendas and open session minutes.

The recent meetings of the PAC were held on 20 February 2024, 11 December 2023, 16 November 2023, 12 October 2023.

All the meetings listed were closed session.

The next PAC meetings will be held on the 14 June 2024 and the 18 June 2024. Both meetings will be closed session.

PAC members

All members of the Protected Areas Committee are members of our Board. Committee membership is approved by the Board and consists of a Chair and at least 3 other members.

The current Committee members are:

PAC member appointments

Only members of our Board can sit on the Protected Areas Committee.

Find out about Board member appointments.


Sarah Hutcheon
Director Support Manager
Meadowbank House 6th Floor South
153 London Road

Telephone: 0131 3162617
Email: [email protected]

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