The Water of Allachy at Glen Tanar National Nature Reserve. Deeside ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Planning and development: protected areas

Development plans and proposals must take particular care to avoid impacts on protected areas that represent the very best of Scotland’s nature

There are nationally important protected areas across Scotland.

Types of protected area include:

Search for protected areas on our SiteLink website.

You can also access and download Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data on protected sites. Visit our Natural Spaces website.

What planners and developers must do

A Habitats Regulations Appraisal must be conducted for any development proposal that requires planning permission or other consent and might affect a Natura site.

We’ve produced specific guidance for developers and regulators who must consider proposals that may affect the Firth of Forth and its Natura sites.

Read about Habitat Regulations Appraisal (HRA) on the Firth of Forth

For Sites of Special Scientific Interest, planning authorities should consult NatureScot in relation to any proposal that could affect a site.

Planning authorities must consult us about certain types of proposal in National Scenic Areas.

Read about development management in National Scenic Areas and consider the impacts of air pollution on protected areas.


Find out more

Natura sites and the Habitats Regulations

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