c.Protective measures and means of implementing

Natural Heritage

The European designations (under the Birds and Habitats Directives) produce a number of obligations on the UK to protect the qualifying features. These are enacted into UK law through the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations 1994. The National Nature Reserve is managed by the National Trust for Scotland through a Management Agreement with SNH which sets out objectives for protecting and managing the natural heritage. The SSSI, through the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 requires potentially damaging operations to be identified and requires SNH to be consulted where any proposed development might involve one of these. The National Scenic Area requires SNH to be consulted by the Local Authority over certain types of development that may impact the landscape character. The marine consultation area involves the appropriate Regulatory authorities in consulting with SNH over certain marine activities.

This combination of strict legal obligations, development controls and land tenure provide a high degree of protection for the natural heritage of this area.

In 1957 St Kilda became one of Britain’s first National Nature Reserves (NNRs) for its geology, its plants, the seabirds, sheep, wrens, and other features. Once approved the new NTS
Management Plan will be the working document with which NTS will manage the NNR on behalf of SNH.

Cultural Heritage

Under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, it is a criminal offence to alter, damage or destroy a scheduled ancient monument without the written consent of Scottish Ministers. The use of metal detectors also requires permission. Provision is made for the giving of grants for the maintenance and management of ancient monuments within the Act under two schemes administered by Historic Scotland: Ancient Monuments Grants, and Management Agreements.

The day-to-day management of the scheduled areas is controlled through a 5-year Management Agreement between Historic Scotland and The National Trust for Scotland in which conservation and management activities are agreed and method statements are appended. Historic Scotland also monitors the management through regular visits by Inspectors of Ancient Monuments, Architects and other professional staff. The HS/NTS Management Agreement includes the provision of a seasonal St Kilda Archaeologist, who is based on the islands during the summer months and who monitors and advises on all works within and outwith the scheduled areas. Activities not covered by the Management Agreement are subject to individual applications for Scheduled Monument Consent, and, if consent is granted, works are monitored by Historic Scotland.

The National Planning Policy Guideline Archaeology and Planning (NPPG 5) and its associated Planning Advice Note Archaeology –the Planning Process and Scheduled Monument Procedures (PAN 42) were issued by the Scottish Office (now the Scottish Executive) in 1994. They provide advice to planning authorities on how to deal with ancient monuments under the development plan and development control systems. Local authorities should have ready access to a professionally maintained Sites and Monuments Record, and should take account of the cultural heritage in Structure Plans, Local Plans and Development Control. Many monuments that are not scheduled are deemed to be of national or regional importance, and are protected through the planning legislation and individual Council policy.

The impact of development proposals on the setting of scheduled monuments is not addressed in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and no additional controls result from World Heritage Site designation, but both are a material consideration in the planning system. Section 15(1) (j) of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Scotland Order 1992, as amended by Section (5) of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) (Scotland) (Amendment (No2) Order 1994 requires planning authorities to consult Scottish Ministers where a development may affect the site of a scheduled monument or its setting. With regard to the marine environment, methodologies for Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment would require impact on the World Heritage Site, including visual impact, to be fully addressed and mitigated.

The islands are covered by UK and Scottish planning laws under which Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has various powers and duties. The Structure Plan prepared by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, approved by the Secretary of State for Scotland in 1988, is the principal strategic planning document. This includes a variety of relevant policies, including PD4 relating to the protection, maintenance and enhancement of the natural and built environment of the Western Isles, where particular note will be taken of Scheduled Ancient Monuments, archaeological sites and Listed Buildings. A revised Structure Plan was open for consultation until May 2002; this also seeks to protect the cultural heritage (Policy SC8) and has specific policies for Listed Buildings (RM16) and Archaeological sites (RM18). Policy ED5 relates to tourism developments, and makes a commitment towards sustainable tourism. The Council employs an archaeologist to advise on these matters.

The Finalised Harris Local Plan (2000) contains a number of specific references to St Kilda. Policy EN5 indicates that ‘the Comhairle will not permit development that would have an adverse affect on any of the international or national environmental designations afforded to St Kilda. An Environmental Impact Assessment will be required for any proposals that may adversely affect St Kilda’. In addition, Policy EN20 provides for the protection not only of Scheduled Ancient Monuments, but of other nationally important remains and their settings, while policies EN14-18 relate to the protection of the character and setting of Listed Buildings and other buildings of significance.

Very little is known about the condition or existence of historic wrecks around St Kilda, although there is historical and first-hand evidence that some wrecks do – or did – exist. Although not commonly used, such remains could be protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 that would afford them statutory protection. Similarly, wrecks – both ships and aeroplanes – can be designated under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, especially if they are formally considered to be war graves.

The ownership by The National Trust for Scotland offers other protection to the heritage assets of the islands. The purposes of the Trust have been defined in various Acts of Parliament, but the principal purposes can be summarised in modern terms as conservation and access. The Trust’s Conservation Principles declare that ‘Conservation processes should seek to resolve conflicts, but where irreconcilable differences between conservation aims and other aims arise, conservation will prevail’. (Principle 7). In addition, St Kilda is held inalienably, which provides a major obstacle to compulsory purchase and to uncontrolled activities by third parties. The National Trust for Scotland has also created formal Bylaws for St Kilda, which protect the natural and cultural heritage from a variety of sources of detrimental activity.


The whole St Kilda archipelago has been designated as a National Scenic Area by Scottish Ministers and is subject to additional planning control to conserve its outstanding scenic significance. Where appropriate, applications covered under NSA legislation are monitored by the Local Authority and by Scottish Natural Heritage – the advisors to Scottish Ministers on landscape matters in Scotland.

However, NSA designation does not currently offer an effective means of protecting the cultural landscape.