Last edited 08 Jul 2021

Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI)

Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) is a designation given to sites that have substantive local nature conservation and geological value. Sometimes, the more general term ‘Local Site’ is used instead, which can be designated ‘Local Wildlife Site’ or ‘Local Geological Site’.

SNCIs tend to be selected because of particular wildlife habitats or if they support scarce or rare species outside their natural habitats. They can be natural sites or man-made.

There are approximately 35,000 SNCIs around the UK, designated by Local Sites Partnerships (LSP) comprising local authorities in cooperation with The Wildlife Trusts, RIGS Groups (Regionally Important Geological and geomorphological Sites) or Geology Trusts, etc.

SNCIs differ from Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and local nature reserves (LNRs) in that whilst they do not have statutory protection, they allow more comprehensive coverage of potentially valuable sites, whereas SSSIs and LNRs only over only a representative selection. The selection process has lower thresholds than those for SSSIs.

Despite SNCIs not having statutory protection, the need to protect them is expected to be taken into consideration by local authorities when they are determining planning and development policies. National government guidance in PPS 9 stipulates that all development plans must include these policies.

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