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 Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 remains one of the most important pieces of wildlife legislation in Great Britain, but it is important to be aware that this document is as it was and does not represent the Act as it currently stands.
The aim of the GCR was to identify the best, most representative, Earth science sites in Great Britain, with a view to their long-term conservation. Before the GCR, there were already SSSIs designated under existing legislation for their geological and geomorphological features, but the Review was a ‘from scratch’ assessment exercise.
The guidelines are currently under revision