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Legislation relating to non-native species

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

This Act is the principal domestic legislation concerning non-native species. It was amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. These amendments enable Scotland to adopt the internationally recognised 3-stage approach to dealing with invasive non-native species and aim to:

  • prevent the release and spread of non-native animal and plant species into areas where they can cause damage to native species and habitats and to economic interests;
  • ensure a rapid response to new populations can be undertaken; and
  • ensure effective control and eradication measures can be carried out when problem situations arise.

The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 changed the release offences in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and added new sections on keeping, notification and control. Information on the non-native species offences contained in the Act is provided below.

Release

New release offences are based on a 'general no-release approach' which is considered to be a much more effective way in which to prevent the release or growing of potentially harmful animals or plants. It will be an offence to:

  • release or allow to escape from captivity any animal to a place outwith its native range;
  • release or allow to escape from captivity any other animal specified in an order made by the Scottish Ministers;
  • cause any animal outwith the control of any person to be at place outwith its native range; and
  • plant or otherwise cause to grow any plant in the wild outwith its native range.

Native range is defined in section 14P(2) as "… the locality to which the animal or plant of that type is indigenous, and does not refer to any locality to which that type of animal or plant has been imported (whether intentionally or otherwise) by any person."

Relevant secondary legislation, additional restrictions on release:

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Keeping and Release and Notification Requirements) (Scotland) Order 2012

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Keeping and Release and Notification Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2012

Relevant secondary legislation, exceptions to prohibition on release:

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Exceptions to section 14) (Scotland) Order 2012

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Exceptions to section 14) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2012

Keeping

Scottish Ministers have powers to prohibit by order the keeping of invasive animals and plants; this can either be an absolute prohibition, or allowed only under licence.

Relevant secondary legislation:

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Keeping and Release and Notification Requirements) (Scotland) Order 2012

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Keeping and Release and Notification Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2012

The Bee Keeping (Colonsay and Oronsay) Order 2013

Notification

Scottish Ministers have powers to require by order the notification of specified invasive animals and plants. This will ensure that reports of plants and animals that are considered a significant risk to Scotland are reported to the appropriate authority, so that they can be investigated at an early stage, and control or eradication measures considered as necessary.

Relevant secondary legislation:

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Keeping and Release and Notification Requirements) (Scotland) Order 2012

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Keeping and Release and Notification Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2012

Sale

Scottish Ministers have the powers to prohibit by order the sale of invasive animals or plants; this can either be an absolute prohibition, or allowed only under licence.

Relevant secondary legislation:

Currently no orders

Control

The 2011 Act introduced a new regime of Species Control Orders into the 1981 Act. This will enable relevant bodies (Scottish Ministers, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Forestry Commission Scotland) to make a Species Control Order setting out measures that must be taken to control or eradicate an invasive non-native animal or plant.

SNH guidance on Species Control Orders

Code of Practice

A Code of Practice, issued under new section 14C of the Wildlife and Countryside 1981 Act, can help you understand what your responsibilities are.