Special Areas for Conservation (SACs)


SACs are areas which have been given special protection under the European Union’s Habitats Directive (1992). They provide increased protection to a variety of wild animals, plants and habitats and are a vital part of global efforts to conserve the world’s biodiversity. 

The legal requirements relating to the designation and management of SACs in England, Scotland and Wales are set out in:

  • The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) and
  • The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

All SACs are already notified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in England, Wales and Scotland and Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) in Northern Ireland.


Find out more >> SACs on the JNCC web site  
Implications for Development Control

Before undertaking or authorising any plan or project, which may have a significant effect on a European site, (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects) all competent authorities (including all planning authorities) are required under Regulation 48 to make an Appropriate Assessmentof that plan or project, taking account of the nature conservation objectives of that site. The competent authority should not undertake or authorise the plan or project until they have established (based on the conclusions of the Appropriate Assessment) that it will not “adversely affect the integrity of the European site”.   Planning authorities can also insist that developments carried out without necessary planning permission are removed.  

Implications for Forward Planning The Habitat Regulations (Regulation 85B in England, Wales and Scotland and 64B in Northern Ireland) require that: 

Where a land use plan:

(a) is likely to have a significant effect on a European site in (the UK) or a European offshore marine site (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects), and 

(b) is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site, the plan-making authority for that plan shall, before the plan is given effect, make an appropriate assessment of the implications for the site in view of that site's conservation objectives.