A male Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) in breeding condition ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

Planning and development: protected animals

Most animals have some level of legal protection, meaning planners and developers must take special care to avoid harming them.

Some animals also have special protection from disturbance and damage, and protection of their breeding and resting sites.

The presence, or potential presence, of any protected species is a material consideration in planning application decisions.

What planners and developers must do

The presence of protected species rarely means that no development can take place. But measures often need to be taken, which may affect working methods and the timing of works.

If there is reasonable evidence that a protected species is present on site or may be affected by a proposal, its presence must be assessed and measures proposed where necessary to avoid impacts. Early surveys and comprehensive protection plans will help to progress a development proposal that may affect a protected animal.

Proposals requiring the most careful scrutiny include those that may impact on:

You may need to apply to us for a licence for any activity that has the potential to disturb a protected species. This includes disturbance of the species for the purpose of the development and/or survey work.

How we can help you

The standing advice below provides the latest information and advice to help ensure that development can proceed without harm to protected species. It includes details for each species regarding legal protection, licensing requirements, when and how to carry out surveys, and a list of measures that can be taken to minimise impacts. 

The advice will help planning applicants seeking permission for development that could affect protected species, and assist planning officers and other regulators in their assessment of these applications.  It should avoid the need for us to advise on individual development proposals with respect to these species.  We will only provide further advice in exceptional circumstances that are not covered by this standing advice.

Find out more

Legal Framework

Land Managers: relevant policy