Cross Compliance: Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2015 (GCCE 2015 v1)
SMR 3: Habitats and species

SMR 3: Habitats and species

(Previously SMR 5)

You must protect species of flora and fauna. Extra rules apply if you have land designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Check if your land is in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) at or by contacting Natural England.

What you must do

You must not:

  • deliberately pick, collect, cut, uproot or destroy a wild plant of a ‘European protected species’.

The list of European protected species is available in the appendix for SMR 3 (see More information).

You will not break this rule if you are operating under a licence issued by Natural England to undertake authorised action, or can rely on a legal defence provided in the Habitats Regulations.

In England, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are always designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

On land designated as a SAC you must:

  • get Natural England's consent in writing before carrying out, causing or permitting any specified operation listed in a Site of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) legal documents, or listed within a special nature conservation order, unless that operation is carried out in accordance with a management agreement, scheme or notice.
A specified operation is one which has been identified as likely to damage the special interest features of the area. This information forms part of the notification package for SSSIs. You must comply with all management notices served by Natural England.


A management notice is different from a management agreement as it legally obliges the recipient to carry out certain activities.

You must comply with the terms of any restoration order served by a court. This applies where the purpose of the notice or restoration order is to protect or restore the special interest features of the area or otherwise restore the land to its former condition as may be so specified.

You must not:

  • intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage the special interest features of the area or disturb any protected flora or fauna that are a special interest feature. (This rule can apply to actions that take place other than on the SAC itself but which have the same consequences).

‘Special interest features’ of an area are interpreted as the notified interest features of the Site of Special Scientific Interest that are also relevant to the Special Area of Conservation.

You will not break the rules for a SAC if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. A ‘reasonable excuse’ may include the following:

  • planning permission to carry out the work
  • consent from a public body or statutory authority that has complied with its duty to consult Natural England before giving the consent
  • it is an emergency operation (provided that Natural England is told as soon as possible after the emergency).

More information

The appendix for habitats and species (SMR 3) is available on GOV.UK.


Natural England: 0845 600 3078

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