Nature sites and areas of countryside can be 'designated', which means they have special status as protected areas because of their natural and cultural importance.
Protection means that these places:
- have clear boundaries
- have people and laws to make sure that the nature and wildlife aren't harmed or destroyed
- can sometimes be used by people for recreation and study
Places are made into protected areas by:
- organisations, eg Forestry Commission Scotland
- local councils and bylaws
- national and international laws and organisations, eg the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
There are restrictions on activities and developments that might affect a designated or protected area, eg building new houses or roads. This includes areas next to as well as in those areas.
Search for protected areas
To check if your business is next to a protected area, use the Scottish Natural Heritage SiteLink service.
You can find different kinds of protected areas, eg wetland sites, national parks or special scientific sites, across the UK, including:
- National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Marine Conservation Zones
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest
- Special Areas of Conservation
- Special Protection Areas
- Ramsar wetland sites
You can check the Scottish Natural Heritage website for a full list of the types of designated and protected areas.
Check if protected area restrictions apply
Contact your local council to find out what restrictions apply to your business or home.
You might need to do certain things if you're opening a new business or building a home that may affect a protected area, such as:
- get permission for your site from the local council
- carry out an ecological survey, eg of local wildlife to find out if there are any protected species that might be affected
- carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Newly designated areas
You'll be contacted by the local council about any new restrictions if your business affects a newly designated area.