Sites of Special Scientific Interest - SSSIs (NE54)

Public bodies carrying out operations

Public bodies must give us notice under section 28H of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) before carrying out any operations which are likely to damage any of the features of interest of an SSSI. This requirement applies to operations within an SSSI, and to operations outside the SSSI which may affect the features of interest. We have 28 days to reply.

We may reply either by giving assent (with or without conditions), or by refusing to assent. If we agree to the proposals, the work may be carried out without waiting 28 days. If a public body wants to carry out the operations without our approval, or without keeping to our recommended conditions, it must not go ahead unless it has given us a further 28 days notice that it plans to carry out the operations.

This further notice must include the proposed start date, and explain how our advice has been taken into account. During this further 28-day period, we may refer the case to the Secretary of State to consider.

There are provisions for work to be carried out in an emergency as long as we are told as soon as possible afterwards.

Breaking these requirements is a criminal offence which may carry a fine of up to £20,000 (unlimited in the Crown Court) and a restoration order.

Public bodies will find it helpful to discuss proposals with us before they give us formal notice to carry out an operation under section 28H of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

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