Male Golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria) in all his fine summer plumage. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Planning and development: birds

Development activity can disturb and displace birds – and it may even result in the permanent loss of bird habitat.

The law protects most birds from such disturbance. This is because it can adversely affect birds’ breeding success and, ultimately, their numbers and distribution.

Scotland’s birdlife has been famous for centuries and is internationally important. The range of species and sites that are protected reflects the immense value of our birdlife.

What planners and developers must do

Identifying how birds use a site is key to working out how to avoid adverse impacts. You may even be able to enhance bird habitat as part of the development. But sometimes you will need to select an alternative site for your plans.

Our guidance can help planners and developers to take proper account of the possible impacts on birds of various types of development.

Another good source of information about birds and how you can support bird conservation is the RSPB website.

Our guidance

Find out how birds might be affected by different kinds of development: