Red squirrels are fully protected by law and it is an offence to:
- kill or injure a red squirrel
- damage, destroy or obstruct a squirrel’s shelter
- disturb a red squirrel whilst it is occupying a shelter.
If a development is likely to affect a red squirrel habitat, special care must be taken to make sure that the plans take this into account.
It is currently not possible to issue a licence to permit actions that would otherwise constitute an offence (Link to SNH website) in relation to red squirrels, for the purpose of forestry or development. Provisions under the new Wildlife and Natural Environment Act may enable this in the future in particular circumstances. More information on this is available from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) have produced guidance on forest operations and red squirrels (pdf)and your local FCS office can advise on Forest Plans and SRDP applications that may affect red squirrels.
SNH will continue to support Local Authorities with help and information for inclusion in Development Planning and Management, but are unlikely to be involved in advising on individual development proposals.