Guide to cross compliance in England: 2016

SMR 3: Habitats and species

You must protect species of flora and fauna.

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

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

What you must do

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 Special Scientific Interest’s (SSSIs) designation documents, or listed within a ‘special nature conservation order’, unless that operation is carried out in accordance with a management agreement, scheme or notice.

‘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 SAC.

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.

  • comply with all management notices and stop notices served by Natural England.

A ‘management notice’ is different from a management agreement because it requires an owner or occupier of land to carry out work or do other things in relation to the land as specified in the notice. A management notice may be served where it appears to Natural England that the special interest features of the land are not adequately being conserved or restored.

A ’stop notice’ can be served in relation to land over which a special nature conservation order has been made.

  • comply with the terms of any restoration order served on you 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).

You might not be breaking the rules if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’, which could include any of the following:

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


Natural England: 0345 600 3078