Before declaring an ASSI, NIEA must first confirm that the lands are, in fact, of special scientific interest and we do this through a scientific survey, which varies according to the nature of the scientific interest. To do this in a consistent way it is necessary to employ criteria by which the special nature of each site can be judged.
On most occasions the survey is undertaken by our own staff but sometimes we may employ a private contractor, if a particular scientific expertise is required.
The Environment (Northern Ireland) Order empowers any such person, who is duly authorised in writing by the Department of the Environment, to enter any land to survey it to establish if it should be declared an ASSI, but this is subject to certain conditions which are described below:
Surveying your land - first contact with you
Before contacting a landowner about any proposed survey, NIEA try to establish the ownership of lands through checks with Land Registers of Northern Ireland.
Your rights at time of survey
A person, properly authorised in writing by the Department, may enter any land, at any reasonable time, to survey it to find out if it holds any flora, fauna or geological feature that is of special scientific interest. The person must, however, let you have sight of this written authorisation if you ask.
The person cannot demand admission to lands under the Order, unless 24 hours notice of the intended entry has been given to the owner or occupier of the lands.
View the selection criteria here (PDF 79Kb)