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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 mitigation measures are often needed, which may affect working methods and the timing of works.

If there’s reasonable evidence that a protected species is present on site or may be affected by a proposal, its presence must be established. Early surveys and comprehensive mitigation 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 many need to apply to us for a licence for any activity that has the potential to disturb a protected species. This includes disturbance for the purpose of either development or survey and research.

Find out about licensing.

How we can help you

We offer specific advice notes for developers on various protected species. These bring together the latest information and advice – from legal protection and licensing details to survey methods and mitigation measures.

View Protected Species Advice for Developers on:

Further advice notes for other protected species are in development. The notes are also relevant to land managers planning work under funded schemes such as the Scottish Rural Development Programme Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS).

We also provide advice about the responsibilities of developers, architects and builders.

You can also view our protected species A–Z, which runs from amphibians and bats to the water vole and wildcat.

Find out more

Legal Framework