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Orchids growing at Weem meadow SSSI near Aberfeldy. July 2016.©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

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:

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 Natura site
  • outside an SSSI or Natura 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.

SNH 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.

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