Find protected areas of countryside
Nature sites and areas of countryside can be ‘designated’, which means they have special status as protected areas because of their natural and cultural importance.
Protection means that these places:
- have clear boundaries
- have people and laws to make sure that the nature and wildlife are not harmed or destroyed
- can sometimes be used by people for recreation and study
Places are made into protected areas by:
- organisations, such as Natural England
- local councils and bylaws
- national and international laws and organisations, such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
There are restrictions on activities and developments that might affect a designated or protected area, for example building new houses or roads. This includes areas next to as well as in those areas.
Search for protected areas
Check if your home or business is next to a protected area in:
You can find different kinds of protected areas, for example wetland sites, national parks or special scientific sites, across the UK, including:
- National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Marine Conservation Zones
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest
- Special Areas of Conservation
- Special Protection Areas
- Ramsar wetland sites
Check if protected area restrictions apply
Contact your local council to find out what restrictions apply to your business or home.
You might need to do certain things if you’re opening a new business or building a home that may affect a protected area, such as:
- get permission from the local council and Natural England
- carry out an ecological survey, for example a survey of local wildlife to find out if there are any protected species that might be affected
- carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
EIAs can be different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Newly designated areas
You’ll be contacted by the local council, the Environment Agency or Natural England about any new restrictions if your business affects a newly designated area.