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Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI's)

There are over 4,000 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in England, covering around 7% of the country's land area. Over half of these sites, by area, are internationally important for their wildlife, and designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) or Ramsar sites. Many SSSIs are also National Nature Reserves (NNRs) or Local Nature Reserves (LNRs).

SSSIs are the country's very best wildlife and geological sites. They include some of our most spectacular and beautiful habitats - large wetlands teeming with waders and waterfowl, winding chalk rivers, gorse and heather-clad heathlands, flower-rich meadows, windswept shingle beaches and remote uplands moorland and peat bog.'Sites of Special Scientific Interest' are areas of land that are important to Britain's natural heritage because of flora, fauna, geological or physiographical features or a combination of these features. An area of land having a special nature conservation interest may be declared a SSSI by the English Nature, the statutory body for nature conservation in the UK. These areas are given special consideration regarding preservation by local planning authorities. Planning authorities must consult English Nature before granting permission for any development which may affect the site.

The SSSI system includes protection for colonies of breeding seabirds, estuaries and wetlands important to migratory waterfowl, bogs and heather moorlands and rare orchid habitats.

If a site is declared as a SSSI by English Nature then they will:

The owners and or occupiers of the land have the opportunity to object to the special designation but should do so to English Nature within 3 months of notification. Once the site has been formally registered the owner and occupiers have legal obligations to ensure that the special features are protected. Legal action may be taken by English Nature if this is not observed. English Nature may enter into management agreements with the owners or occupiers, may make grants or offer to lease or purchase the land to secure the conservation of the site.

See also the English Nature document: Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

Further information may be obtained from English Nature

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