Relevant legislation

European Protected Species

A number of European species whose natural range includes Great Britain are protected under EU legislation, specifically the Habitats Directive. It is an offence to deliberately kill, capture or disturb a European Protected Species (EPS), or to damage or destroy the breeding site or resting place of such an animal. It is therefore vital that such species are taken into account when considering development in order to avoid committing an offence.

Faunal species afforded this level of protection include:

  • Bats (all species)
  • Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)
  • Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus)
  • Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)
  • Otter (Lutra lutra)
  • Pool Frog (Pelophylax lessonae)
  • Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis)
  • Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)

Section 1 of the Act covers protection of wild birds and their nests and makes it an offence to intentionally:

  • Kill, injure or take any wild bird
  • Take, damage or destroy the nest of a wild bird while that nest is in use or being built
  • Take or destroy an egg of any wild bird

Additionally, for birds included on Schedule 1 of the Act it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb them while nest building or at a nest containing eggs or young, or to disturb the dependent young of such a bird.

This protection makes it essential to plan any vegetation clearance works outside of the nesting bird season (March – August inclusive). If this is not possible checks for active nests will need to be conducted by a suitably experienced ecologist immediately prior to works being conducted.

Section 9 of the Act covers certain wild animals, specifically those listed on Schedule 5. There are three different levels of protection afforded under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) resulting from different parts of Section 9 of the Act applying to the different species.

Animals listed on Schedule 5 include (but are by no means limited to):

  • Bats (all)
  • Dormouse
  • Otter
  • Water Vole
  • Reptiles (Adder, Common Lizard, Grass Snake, Sand Lizard, Smooth Snake and Slow-worm)
  • Common and Pool Frogs
  • Common and Natterjack Toads
  • Great Crested, Smooth and Palmate Newts

Full protection

This applies to all bat species, Dormouse, Otter, Water Vole, Sand Lizard, Smooth Snake, Natterjack Toad, Pool Frog and Great Crested Newt.

All parts of Section 9 apply making it an offence to: intentionally kill, injure or take (capture etc.) any of the species listed above; possess (live or dead) any of these species; intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy structures providing shelter or protection, disturb any such species whilst occupying a place used for shelter or obstruct access to such places; sell, offer for sale, possess or transport for sale or advertise to sell or to buy any such species.

Protection against killing, injuring and sale

This level of protection applies to the Adder, Common Lizard, Grass Snake and Slow-worm.

Part of section 9 sub-section (1) and all of section 9 sub-section (5) apply; these prohibit the intentional killing and injuring of the above species and also make it an offence to sell, offer for sale, transport for sale or advertise to sell or buy such species.

Protection against sale only

The four widespread species of amphibian, the Smooth and Palmate Newts, Common Frog and Common Toad, are only protected by Section 9 sub-section (5) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

This section prohibits sale, offering for sale, transport for sale and advertising for sale or to buy the species listed above. Collection and keeping of these widespread amphibian species is not an offence.

The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006

Section 41 of the NERC Act 2006 recognises a number of species (943 in total) as of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity. This list is derived from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, which has now been superseded by the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. Under Section 40 of the NERC Act 2006 all public bodies must have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in England when carrying out their normal functions. All of our native reptile species are included on this list (Adder, Common Lizard, Grass Snake, Sand Lizard, Smooth Snake, Slow-worm) along with four amphibian species (Common Toad, Great Crested Newt, Natterjack Toad and Pool Frog).

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