Sites of Special Scientific Interest - SSSIs (NE54)

Your responsibilities

You must give us written notice before you begin any of the operations listed in the notification, or you allow someone else to carry out these activities. None of the listed operations may go ahead without our consent. Our local advisors can provide advice on appropriate management and the process for giving notice of any operations you want to carry out. They will also be able to advise on what sources of funding may be available. See page 7 How to give notice of operations listed in the notification.


Traditional management and field boundaries are important to maintain the features of SSSIs. Paul Glendell/Natural England

Our local advisors will always try to agree or negotiate a practical and realistic approach to your proposals. In many cases, you may be able to carry out the operation without damaging the site. We may attach conditions or time limits to the consent. If you want to carry out an operation in a way that would damage the special interest features of an SSSI, we may refuse to give consent, and that operation can not legally go ahead. We may also review existing consents, and withdraw or modify them if we consider that they are damaging to the SSSI.

If we have refused consent, or you are unhappy with the conditions or modifications we have made to a consent, you can appeal to the Secretary of State. 

You do not need our permission if you:

  • carry out emergency work and let us know as soon as reasonably possible afterwards; or
  • have planning permission granted for the operation on a specific application under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (this does not apply to operations under Permitted Development Orders); or
  • have statutory permission, authorisation or a licence from another public body to carry out specific operations, and that public body has consulted us.

We have registered every SSSI in England as a local land charge. This means that anyone buying land will be able to discover whether it is notified as an SSSI by examining the register. We will be pleased to provide further details if you ask. If you are a new owner of land notified as an SSSI, you have to comply with the legislation. If you already own an SSSI, you must tell us, within 28 days, about any change in ownership or occupation of the SSSI land which you own. See page 9 Enforcing the law relating to SSSIs.


Volunteers play an important role at Greetham Meadows SSSI, Leicestershire. Peter Wakely/Natural England

SSSIs protect rare and declining habitats such as chalk grassland. Paul Glendell/Natural England

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