Within Sites of Special Scientic Interest (SSSI), certain activities are prohibited and there are legal duties concerning how the areas should be managed and protected.
It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage, disturb or destroy land known to be an SSSI or intentionally or recklessly disturb the wildlife in an SSSI. It is also an offence to take down, damage or obstruct an SSSI notice or sign.
If you are owner or occupier of an SSSI, it an offence to carry out any activity that may likely damage the SSSI without consent from the relevant conservation agency. The law requires that you inform the conservation agency of any change in ownership or occupancy.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act the owner or occupier may enter into a management agreement for the purposes of securing the SSSI special interest.
Public bodies are not allowed to carry out damaging operations on an SSSI, except where they notify the relevant conservation agency. It is also an offence for a public body to fail to minimise damage done to an SSSI or – if damage occurs – to fail to restore an SSSI to its former state.
Statutory bodies have a general duty to take reasonable steps to further the conservation and enhancement of the special feature of SSSIs.
Where statutory bodies propose to undertake or permit activities that could affect a SSSI they must consult the relevant statutory nature conservation agency. If the activity cannot be avoided it must be undertaken in a way least damaging to the SSSI.
The following activities are prohibited in Stover Country Park, and on all other sites owned by Devon County Council:
- Release of balloons and lanterns, including at DCC events.
- Camping, including wild camping.
- Use of drones – using a drone on nature reserves and SSSIs without permission from Natural England can be an offence as it may cause disturbance during the nesting season for birds – the only exception being contractors or staff who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have specific insurances and have been commissioned or authorised by the Park for a specific purpose – and in these cases, the activity is strictly controlled.
The rangers hold the right, as custodians of the Park, to ask people to refrain from any activity deemed not suitable within a Local Nature Reserve or SSSI.