Naturenet: European Protected Species

European Protected Species

Effect of protection

The Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994Pages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet implement EC Directive 92/43/EEC, known as The Habitats Directive. This has been law since 1994 and makes it an offence deliberately to kill, capture, or disturb a European Protected Species, or to damage or destroy the breeding site or resting place of such an animal.

There have been two significant changes to the way in which these regulations are implemented in England.

New DEFRA extension of protection, August 2007

DEFRA introduced on 21 August 2007 changes to the Habitats Regulations, and the introduction of the new Offshore Marine Conservation Regulations. People have to consider, in a wider range of circumstances, the presence of these protected species and their breeding sites or resting places. Anyone who wishes to possess specimens of a protected species must have a genuine reason for doing so, and will have to demonstrate this is compatible with the Regulations. The new Offshore Marine Conservation Regulations extend protection out to 200 nautical miles.

It will no longer be a defence to show that the killing, capture or disturbance of such species or the destruction or damage of their breeding sites or resting places was the incidental and unavoidable result of a lawful activity.

New DETR interpretation, March 2000

From March 2000 the law concerning the protection of certain species (listed here) has been interpreted in a different way in England and Wales (this change does not affect Scotland where the law has generally been interpreted in this way since 1994).

Prior to 2000 it was the practice in England and Wales for anyone who wished to undertake an operation that would breach these regulations to apply for a licence from Natural EnglandPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet or the Countryside Council for WalesPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet . These were normally granted if it could be shown that the protected species could be satisfactorily relocated to another place, or some other mitigation (such as habitat creation) could be undertaken to make up for the damage to the species or its habitat.

However, new interpretation of the law was published by DETR on 19 May 2000 (parts of this page are based on that. We have not seen the equivalent from CCW but we understand the effect is the same in Wales) It seems that the old interpretation was not sufficiently rigorous. From March 2000 all applications for a licence will be processed by DETR and measured against a different set of criteria. For a licence to be issued these three tests must be satisfied:

  1. That the development is 'in the interests of public health and public safety, or for other imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment';
  1. That there is 'no satisfactory alternative';
  1. That the derogation (i.e. any permission/licence granted) is 'not detrimental to the maintenance of the populations of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range'.

Many applications for licenses are likely to arise following a grant of planning permission from the local authority. Often new developments can affect protected species. Old habits die hard and many local authorities and developers alike will not be completely aware of the implications of this change - raising the possibility of planning permission being granted but a licence being refused.

List of Species

The following species are European Protected Species, taken from Schedule 2 and Schedule 4 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994Pages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet.

European Protected Species are defined in English legislation as species listed in Annex IV to the Habitats Directive whose natural range includes any area in GB. Note that the possession, control, transport, sale and exchange offences in the new Regulations are not limited to species whose natural range includes GB.