Sites of Special Scientific Interest - SSSIs (NE54)

How to give notice of operations listed in the notification

When an SSSI is notified, we will give you a list of operations which need our consent before they may be carried out. Legally you have to give us written notice of any operations which you plan to carry out, or allow someone else to carry out.

A notice of a proposed operation must specify the nature of the operation and the land on which it is proposed to be carried out.

We will respond to notices of proposed operations within 10 working days, or tell you if our decision is more complicated and likely to take longer. However, if we do not respond within four months, you can assume we have refused consent, and you have a right to appeal. If you would like advice about an operation before giving us written notice, please contact your local office where our advisors will be happy to help.

If the operation will not damage the special interest, we will be able to give our consent to it. We may attach conditions or time limits to make sure that the operation does not damage the SSSI. If an operation will damage an SSSI, we will refuse consent. We will always explain our decisions over consents, and try to sort out any disagreements over conditions or time limits.

If disputes over conditions, time limits or our refusal cannot be sorted out, you can appeal to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

What to do if you are not satisfied with our response

There are procedures set out by law that you can use, and complaint procedures available for sorting out any disagreements. We are committed to sorting out disputes through independent experts or mediation. The team manager of the relevant local office will be able to let you know about dispute resolution procedures, which form part of our informal process for sorting out disagreements.

If you are not satisfied with our decision about a proposed operation on an SSSI, and cannot sort the matter out with our advisor, please contact the relevant team manager. He or she will investigate the issue thoroughly, and will reply to you within 10 working days.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you should ask for the disagreement to be investigated by the regional director. You can obtain the names of the team manager and regional director by contacting the local office with which you have been dealing. There is a time limit for making formal appeals to the Secretary of State, under section 28F of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). You must appeal to the Secretary of State within two months of our letter refusing consent, or setting conditions or time limits. You may continue to look at other ways of sorting out your disagreement with us. We can only extend the time limit for lodging formal appeals with the Secretary of State if you and we agree.

Making an appeal to the Secretary of State If we have refused you consent to carry out an operation on an SSSI, or you disagree with a condition or time limit attached to the consent or modification made to a consent,
you can appeal formally to the Secretary of State under section 28F of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

You must write to the Secretary of State at:
European Wildlife Division
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
1st Floor
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6EB.

The appeal should give the name of the person making the appeal, and a contact address and phone number. It should also give the name of the SSSI. You should give the reasons why you want to appeal. You should also enclose a copy of the consent or refusal letter against which the appeal is being made.

The Secretary of State must have received your appeal within two months of the date of our letter which refuses consent, or sets conditions or a time limit. You must also send a copy of the appeal to us.

The appeal may be dealt with by exchanging written statements, or by a hearing. Please tell the Secretary of State which you prefer.

Written statements can include maps, plans or photographs, along with information about the site and the operations involved. Written statements are likely to be a quicker and cheaper method for deciding an appeal than a hearing. A hearing gives you and us the chance to state our cases before an Inspector (an 'appointed person' under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981). The Inspector will make a report to the Secretary of State, recommending a decision.

In both a hearing and an exchange of written statements, the appeal will be decided using the evidence put forward. If you make an appeal, the Secretary of State will write to you to explain the procedures in more detail.

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