Nature conservation order
Nature conservation orders (NCOs) are a means to protect the natural features of specific areas of land from damage.
Scottish Ministers may issue NCOs when there’s no other adequate means to protect such areas.
NCOs are made for:
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) – under the provisions of Chapter 2 of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004
- European sites – under Regulations 19 and 20 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994
- Any other land which is of special interest in the opinion of the Scottish Ministers - under the provisions of Chapter 2 of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004
Breaching an NCO is an offence.
Coverage of a Nature Conservation Order
NCOs are used to make it illegal to carry out specific activities in specific areas and/or at specific times.
An NCO may apply to land:
- within an SSSI
- within a European site
- outside an SSSI or European site that Scottish Ministers deem of special interest for its natural features
- bordering or otherwise associated with any of the above types of land
NCOs in force
As of August 2019, there are six NCOs in force in Scotland.
NatureScot must report to Scottish Ministers on NCOs in force, and we do this as part of our annual report.
The most recent NCO made was on 1st August 2019 to prevent damage to, and removal of, Jurassic vertebrate fossils on Skye.
Read the Scottish Government consultation notice regarding this Skye NCO.
Find out more
Read our latest news item on Skye Dinosaurs.