Surveying the grasslands at Brerachan meadows, Tayside. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

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. But if a vote must be taken on the final decision, PAC members would normally abstain from voting.

Protected Areas Committee Terms of Reference

PAC Meeting Dates for 2020

12 February 2020 – Closed session

PAC meetings

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

Members of the public may attend open session meetings of the SAC 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 last three meetings of the PAC held on 25 October 2019, 9 December 2019 and 12 February 2020 were all held in 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 three 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.


Paul Robertson
Scientific Advisory Committee Coordinator
Great Glen House
Leachkin Road

Telephone: 01463 725 256
Email: [email protected]

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