Rationale, Operational approach and criteria, Detail guidelines for habitats and species groups
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is the forum through which the three country nature conservation agencies, the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), deliver their statutory responsibilities for Great Britain as a whole and internationally.
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the
statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature
conservation. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching
biological diversity, conserving geological features and sustaining
natural systems. JNCC delivers the UK and international
responsibilities of the four country nature conservation agencies -
Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the
Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England and Scottish Natural
Heritage. JNCC, originally established under the Environmental
Protection Act 1990, was reconstituted by the Natural Environment
and Rural Communities Act 2006. JNCC, working with the nature
conservation agencies, is the focus for the guidelines for the
selection of biological Sites of Special Scientific Interest
The nature conservation agencies have a duty under the
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended, to notify any area
of land which in their opinion is 'of special interest by reason of
any of its flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical
features'. Such areas are known as Sites of Special Scientific
Interest (SSSIs). The notification is made to owners and occupiers,
local planning authority and the Secretary of State, who may make
representations or objections to the nature conservation agencies
regarding the notification. Any representation or objection made
must be considered by the nature conservation agencies before a
decision is made by them to confirm the notification.
In 1989 the then Nature Conservancy Council published
guidelines for the selection of biological SSSIs. Since 1991 JNCC
has been the focus for the production and revision of the
The biological guidelines set out general principles upon
which the nature conservation agencies reach judgements regarding
special scientific interest. These principles are supplemented by
details of wildlife habitat types and species groups.
In Northern Ireland the designation Areas of Special
Scientific Interest (ASSIs) is the equivalent of the SSSIs. The
responsibility for the identification and designation of these
sites rest with the Environment and Heritage Service, Northern
Ireland. View the Guidelines
for the selection of biological ASSIs
Review of the Guidelines for the selection of biological SSSIs:
The Guidelines for Selection of Biological SSSIs were originally
published by the Nature Conservancy Council in 1989. Since then, a
series of revisions have been made in the form of additional or
revised chapters. However, the underlying rationale and operational
approach have remained intact and broadly fit for purpose.
Nonetheless, there is recognition that some updating is needed to
take into account changes in governance, legislation and wider
approaches to nature conservation being developed within the UK BAP
and country biodiversity strategies.
The decision has been taken to carry out a light touch review of
Parts A (Rationale) and B (Operational Approach and Criteria) of
the Guidelines, which goes beyond merely tidying up the text, in
order to take on board important issues in relation to the purpose
of the SSSI network, such as the ecosystem approach and climate
change adaptation. It is the view of the Inter-Agency SSSI Review
Group that any revision of Parts A and B is likely to have
implications for some elements of Part C (detailed Guidelines for
Habitats and Species Groups), and further consideration may need to
be given to this.
Timetable for delivery of the review of Parts A and B of the
October - November 2010
- A list of consultees will be drawn up and these will be
notified that they are to be invited to comment on the draft
conclusions of the revision of Parts A and B.
- Expressions of interest will be sought from within the country
conservation bodies for the role of Chief Editor.
- The inter-agency group will identify the key points of Parts A
and B requiring revision, and a two phased approach will be taken,
equating to tidying up, followed by addressing of technical
November 2010 – January 2011
- A Chief Editor will be appointed to lead on the revision of the
text of Parts A and B of the Guidelines.
- Working with the inter-agency group, the Chief Editor will
undertake work to modernise and clarify the language used, with
removal of extraneous material.
- Following this, new text will be added by the Chief Editor, as
advised by the IA Group, in relation to the key areas: changes to
governance, legislation and wider approaches to nature
- Secretariat support will be sought to manage the stakeholder
consultation process, with expressions of interest called for from
within the country conservation bodies and JNCC Support
- Draft revisions of Parts A and B to be presented to the
Inter-Agency Science Management Group and Chief Scientists’
- Agreed draft revisions will be issued to consultees, for their
views, by the end of February 2011.
- Mid-March: consultation closed, and comments assessed.
- The IA Group and Chief Editor will amend the draft review, as
required. The revision period for review and amendments will span
three months, i.e. April-June 2011.
- An agreed paper will be produced, including recommendations for
amendments to Part C, where necessary, and submission via the
Inter-Agency Science Management Group to the country conservation
bodies, in June 2011.
- Comments back from the country conservation bodies (by mid-July
2011) and further revision (by the end of July 2011), prior to
submission of the paper to Chief Scientists’ Group in August
- Submission of an approved paper to the Joint Committee meeting
in September 2011.