Beavers in Scotland: consultation on the strategic environmental assessment

A consultation on the policy to reintroduce beavers to Scotland and the strategic environmental assessment of this policy.

Appendix 2: Relevant Plans, Programmes and Strategies

The table below details the related policy and regulatory framework which sets the context for the assessment

Related Policy and legislative context.

Summary description

Relevance to beavers

Nature conservation law

Habitats Directive

Requires Member States to study the desirability of reintroducing Annex IVa species; to establish a system of strict protection for these species; to keep their conservation status under surveillance and to allow for derogations; and to designate Special Areas of Conservation ( SACs) for species listed on Annex II, avoiding disturbance to the species for which a site has been selected and deterioration of dependent habitats, and assess the impacts of projects or plans proposed on these sites on such species

Beavers are listed on Annex IVa for the UK. Some EU populations are not listed on Annex IVa.

Beavers are listed on Annex II for the UK.

Note: Beavers are listed on Annex V for those Member States whose populations are not listed on Annex IVa. Annex V listing is therefore not relevant to the UK

Habitats Regulations 1994

Regulations 37A-46A describe the protection given to Annex IVa species and European Protected Species ( EPSs; those Annex IVa animals whose natural range includes any area of Great Britain), and the licensing regime. Regulations 7-37 and 47-85E describe the Natura site designation process and assessment implications

Limited Scottish protection given to Annex IVa listing at the moment. If beavers are to stay in Scotland they would require to be become a European Protected Species and be given strict protection in accordance with the Habitats Directive (this can be done for Scotland only within the UK). A licensing regime would become applicable.

Site(s) may require designation as SACs for beavers. Plans or proposals affecting beaver SACs would require assessment in the light of the site's conservation objectives before being approved.

Plans or proposals affecting any Natura site ( SAC or Special Protection Area for birds), including any beaver reintroduction, would also require a 'Habitats Regulations Appraisal' before proceeding. Some of these might require an 'Appropriate Assessment' before a decision is made about whether or not to proceed

Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

Under Section 14 it is illegal to release, allow to escape from captivity or cause to be at a place outside the control of any person any animal species outside its native range without a licence under Section 16. Former native species are considered to be 'non-native species' for the purposes of the Act

Any release of beavers in Scotland would require a non-native species licence from SNH, given the beaver's 'former native' status

Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004

SNH must notify Sites of Special Scientific Interest ( SSSIs) for natural features (including certain animals) according to published selection guidelines and describe 'operations requiring consent' ( ORCs). The ORC provides details of acts or omissions which might damage the natural feature of interest, and therefore require SNH consent before being carried out

Currently, SSSIs cannot be notified for beavers. However, if released onto an existing SSSI notified for other feature(s), beaver management might require consent

Salmon & Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003

Brings together the law governing Scotland's District Salmon Fishery Boards and other important regulatory areas, including an offence in relation to passage of salmon. Persons acting to prevent salmon passage or disturb any spawning bed may be guilty of an offence

The implications of possible riverine habitat change/engineering resulting from beaver activity (e.g. dam construction) or beaver management which might impede fish movement within river systems and affect in-stream habitat require clarification and guidelines to be produced. Consultation with relevant DSFBs, fishery owners and SEPA will be a requirement

Trade and movement of animals

Not applicable

Animal welfare law

Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006

This law protects the welfare of all vertebrate animals kept on a temporary or permanent basis in Scotland.

Animals transported by air (either outside or within Scotland) must comply with the International Air Transport Association's 'Live Animals Regulations' ( LAR)

Beaver welfare should be considered when animals are captured, transported or held in captivity, and during and after release into the wild.

Persons responsible for holding beavers in captivity must not cause them unnecessary suffering or fail to take reasonable steps to ensure their welfare.

Where capture or release of beavers is undertaken in another country, the relevant animal welfare legislation of that country must be adhered to.

If transported by air in Scotland or to/from Scotland, beavers must be held in containers as specified under LAR

Pests and diseases

Not applicable

Water and flood risk management

Water Framework Directive 2000

Water Environment & Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003

Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (' CAR')

Establishes a regulatory structure aimed at protecting, improving and sustainably using water. The 2003 Act and 2011 Regulations transpose the Directive into Scots law and gives Scottish Ministers regulatory controls over water activities - the Controlled Activity Regulations ( CAR). Persons intending to carry out any activity which might affect Scotland's water environment require authorisation from SEPA

The management of beaver on a site might result in CAR applications to SEPA (e.g. river impoundment works to protect river banks). SEPA has developed a pragmatic position statement on the management of beaver structures (available from the SEPA website)

Floods Directive 2007

Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009

The 2009 Act transposes the Floods Directive into Scots law, introducing requirements to reduce the adverse consequences of flooding for a range of reasons, including human health and the environment. It aims to establish a framework of responsibility for assessing and managing flooding and places a strong emphasis on working with nature to manage flood risk

Habitat change brought about by beaver activity might contribute to restoring natural processes within catchments. Beaver presence might increase or reduce flood risk at a local level. Strategic and local flood risk management planning will need to take account of potential beaver activity in managing flood risk sustainably

Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011

Sets down the regulatory regime for the safe construction and operation of 'controlled reservoirs' in Scotland. Requires compulsory registration of controlled reservoirs, regulates their construction and denotes inspection requirements. SEPA must assess the risk of uncontrolled releases of water from reservoirs (in terms of adverse consequences and probability). The Act also gives SEPA the power to act in an emergency to protect people or property from water escaping from a reservoir

There is the potential for beaver burrowing, for example, to damage 'controlled reservoirs' with consequent risk to public and infrastructure safety. More frequent inspection of some controlled reservoirs may be required. Plans for new reservoirs might need to take into account possible beaver activity in the area

Environmental liability and impact assessments

Environmental Liability Directive 2004

Environmental Liability (Scotland) Regulations 2009

Under the Directive and the transposed Scots law, operators causing environmental damage (which includes offences affecting Annex II species and Annex IV species and their breeding sites or resting places) are held financially liable for remedying the damage. Protection applies whether the species is inside or outside a Natura site

Operators who kill (large numbers of) beaver (when their population is low) or damage their breeding sites or resting places may be held financially liable for remedying the situation

Related policy/programmes

Species Action Framework and Handbook

The Species Action Framework ( SAF) was a five-year programme of targeted species management from 2007-12. It covered 32 species including Eurasian beaver and led to the Scottish Beaver Trial project.

The subsequent SAF Handbook summarises the knowledge and experience gained through the SAF, and

includes details of more recent work that followed on from SAF

Eurasian beaver is a species for conservation action in the SAF and Handbook


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