Consolidation of the Habitats Regulations in England and Wales

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations, often referred to as the Habitats Regulations, were consolidated (in England and Wales) in late 2017 to incorporate recent amendments. The Habitats Regulations are the means by which the Habitats Directive and some parts of the Birds Directive, two pieces of EU legislation, are implemented in England and Wales. In Scotland, the Habitats Directive is transposed through a combination of the Habitats Regulations 2010 (in relation to reserved matters) and the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994. It is likely that this legislation will remain valid for some time following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The recent consolidation involved incorporating recent amendments and omitting obsolete text. However, from a practical perspective, it does not change the legal situation, which is summarised below.

The Habitats Regulations cover the designation and protection of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) which are designated for important habitats and species (other than birds).

Species listed on Annex IV of the Habitats Directive are referred to as European Protected Species, and include both animals and plants. Among other offences, it is an offence to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of an animal classed as a European Protected Species.

European Protected Species occurring in the UK are:


Licensing makes it possible for the relevant Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England or Natural Resources Wales) to permit some activities that would otherwise be illegal. Ellendale Environmental has extensive experience in applying for such licences on behalf of clients, and we are happy to advise on such matters if we find evidence of European Protected Species in our surveys.

" Grace " by  Peter Trimming  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0

"Grace" by Peter Trimming is licensed under CC BY 2.0

John McTague