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SSSI FAQs

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

Q. What are SSSIs?

A. SSSIs form a series of nationally important sites in Great Britain. In Scotland SSSIs are notified by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.

Q. How many SSSI sites have been notified in Scotland by SNH?

A. There are currently 1,440 SSSIs in Scotland.

Q. What is the relationship between Natura sites (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Areas of Protection ) and SSSIs?

A. Most of the terrestrial Natura sites in Scotland are also SSSIs. SSSIs notification has traditionally enhanced legal protection for Natura sites.

Q. What happens when a planning application is submitted that relates to an SSSI?

A. The planning authority must consult SNH, and have regard to its advice, when determining an application for a development which might affect a SSSI. Further details can be accessed via the Scottish Government Scottish Planning Policy.

Q. Is there financial compensation available for owning land which has been notified as an SSSI?

A. Where the natural features for which the SSSI has been notified are, or may become, compromised by 'established management' activities, SNH would offer to enter into a management agreement to provide compensation for any actual financial loss. Established management can be taken to mean any activity that has been part of the actual or habitual pattern of use at the site for the previous 15 years. For a more comprehensive definition and additional information regarding financial assistance for protected areas, access the Scottish Government's Financial Guidelines.