European protected species of plant licensing

Some species of plants have declined throughout Europe to such an extent that they are now offered special protection in law. The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (known as ‘the Habitats Regulations’) transposed into UK law the EC Habitats Directive of 1992, which listed these EPS.

This page cannot cover all aspects of the law, but is an introduction to show how you can help to protect these rare species.

Plant species

The following plants occurring in Wales are European Protected Species, and are listed on Schedule 5 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017:

  • Fen Orchid, Liparis loeselii
  • Floating Water-plantain, Luronium natans
  • Killarney Fern, Trichomanes speciosum
  • Shore Dock, Rumex rupestris

Under the Habitats Regulations, it is an offence if you deliberately pick, collect, cut, uproot or destroy a wild plant of a European protected species.


NRW issues licences under Regulation 55 of the Habitats Regulations to allow activities involving EPS to proceed, which would otherwise be offences. We issue them for specific purposes stated in the Regulations, if the following three tests are met:

  • The purpose of the work meets one of those listed in the Habitats Regulations
  • That there is no satisfactory alternative
  • That the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range

Licensing purposes

The Habitats Regulations permits licences to be issued for a specific set of purposes including:

  • Include preserving public health or public safety or other imperative reasons of over-riding public interest including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment
  • Scientific and educational purposes
  • Conserving wild plants or introducing them to particular areas

When you can apply for a licence

Find out who can apply for a protected species licence

Apply for a protected species licence

If you cannot avoid disturbing protected species, or damaging their breeding sites and resting places, you can apply for a licence for a range of different activities:

Contact us

You can contact us for help at any time before or during your licence application.

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