Habitats and birds
The Habitats Directive has led to establishment of a network of protected sites known as Natura 2000 sites.
Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) sites form part of this network along with Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance). Under national legislation, these sites are also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), however not all SSSIs are Natura 2000 sites.
A Defra report from 2004 indicated that the number of SACs in the UK will stand at 577 sites, totalling over 2,341,600 ha. Natural England (NE) is the statutory body responsible for these.
Regulatory authorities are required to protect designated habitats so, when farmers apply for permits, such as Environmental Permits and abstraction licences, the potential impact on these habitats must be assessed. Licences and permits may not be granted if damage may be inflicted upon these habitats.
In addition, some established farms are required to reduce their ammonia emissions in order to comply with their Environmental Permitting Regulations conditions.
These regulations can restrict the development of livestock farms so it is important to understand them.