Planning and development: protected species

Planners and developers must take special care to avoid any harm to protected animals

Some animals 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.

Occasionally the translocation of organisms is proposed as a possible form of mitigation. Such ‘mitigation translocations’ tend to be high risk, complex and expensive activities for which there is limited evidence of their effectiveness, and used rarely in Scotland. In situations where these may be considered as a last resort, then the guidance and legal framework set out in the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations should be followed. Most mitigation translocations are likely to require licences from us (even for non-protected species in some situations).

How we can help you

The standing advice below will help ensure that development can proceed without harm to those protected species listed, and that any offences are avoided. 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.

We also have guidance on what to consider and include in deer assessment and management at development sites.

Find out more

Legal Framework

Land Managers: relevant policy

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