Nature Conservation Order NCO
|Seton Sands and the Firth of Forth, which was designated as an NCO in 2006.|
In Scotland, Nature Conservation Orders (NCOs) are made to prevent damage to the natural features of specific areas of land. The Orders set out certain prohibited operations and the land to which they apply. NCOs may be issued by Scottish Ministers in situations where there are no other protective measures in place.
 Where NCOs apply
An NCO may apply in or around certain designated areas, including:
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as designated under the provisions of Chapter 2 of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.
- Within Natura sites as designated under Regulations 19 and 20 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994.
- Outside SSSI or Natura sites where Scottish Ministers deem there is special interest in natural features.
- Bordering or otherwise associated with any of the aforementioned types of land.
 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Natura sites in Scotland
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are essential building blocks for nature conservation in Scotland. They are areas of land and water that serve as natural representations of Scotland’s natural heritage in terms of its flora, fauna, geology, geomorphology and a mixture of these natural features.
Natura sites are designated under the European Habitats and Birds Directives. Natura sites are intended to protect plants, animals and birds – some which are considered rare, endangered or vulnerable.
One additional piece of legislation, the Habitats Regulations, provides protection for SACs and SPAs in Scotland. This ensures that any plan or project that may damage a Natura site is assessed and can only proceed if certain strict conditions are met.
 Consequences of violating an NCO
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