b. Legal Status

Natural Heritage

The site is currently a classified Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive; and a candidate Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive. Under domestic legislation, the site is a National Nature Reserve under the 1949 National Parks and Access to Countryside Act; an SSSI under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; and a National Scenic Area, established by order of the Secretary of State in 1981 under planning legislation. The sea surrounding St Kilda is a marine consultation area which is a nonstatutory designation recognised in marine strategic planning.

Cultural Heritage

Large areas of Hirta are included on the Schedule of Ancient Monuments (SAM Map), and are protected under Section 28 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. Under this Act, anyone found guilty of destroying or damaging such protected places without lawful excuse can be liable to a fine or imprisonment or both. Historic Scotland acts for Scottish Ministers on the management of the monuments, and considers and decides upon any proposals that might affect their preservation or setting.

The cultural landscape of Hirta makes a significant contribution to the scenic qualities of the area.

Figure 4.1: Map of Hirta showing areas protected under Section 28 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979