Site of Special Scientific Interest SSSIWhat is an SSSI?

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the United Kingdom  is a conservation designation denoting a protected area extremely valuable for its flora, fauna, physiological and geological features. In the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland they are known as Area of Special Scientific Interest or ASSI. Unlike SSSIs, ASSIs include both natural environments and man-made structures. 

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) often contain important habitats such as grasslands, parkland and woodland. Some even contain ancient woodland and ancient trees. In other words, these areas have high conservation value, and need to be protected.

Various Permitted Development rights still exist in SSSIs. You can see which change of uses are still available to you via our reference table here.  If you require planning then you must have the consent of the various bodies that look after SSSIs or ASSIs –

  • England: Natural England
  • Wales: Natural Resources Wales
  • Scotland: Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland Environment Agency (ASSI)
  • Isle of Man: IOM DEFA (ASSI)

You can find SSSIs in your area via the DEFRA MAGiC map system. (Under Designations / Land Based Designations / Site of Special Scientific Interest )