Legislation & Policy

There is a range of legislation and policy in place across the UK that take invasive non native species into account. 

England and Wales

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) is the principal legislation dealing with non-native species.

Under the WCA it is illegal to:

The Schedule 9 list of animal and plant species can be found here list of species in Schedule 9 for England and Wales.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (prohibition on Sale etc. of Invasive Non-native Plants) (England) Order 2014 prohibits a number of plants from sale in England due to their significant negative impacts on biodiversity and the economy. Those species prohibited from sale are:


Import of Live Fish (England and Wales) Act 1980
This Act gives the relevant Minister the power to make Orders to prohibit or licence the import into, or the keeping or release in any part of England and Wales of live fish, or the live eggs of fish, of a species which is not native to England and Wales and which might harm the habitat of, compete with, displace or prey on any freshwater fish, shellfish or salmon. The Prohibition of Keeping or Release of Live Fish (Specified Species) Order 1998, made under the Import of Live Fish (England and Wales) Act 1980, prohibits the unlicensed keeping or release of 47 species of non-native live fish.
The Prohibition of Keeping of Live Fish (Crayfish) Order 1996 aims to prevent the spread of non-native crayfish, and prohibits the unlicensed keeping of all non-native crayfish species in England and Wales (there is an exception to the prohibition in respect of crayfish of the species named “signal crayfish”.

Plant Health Act 1967; Plant Health (England) Order 2005; Plant Health (Wales) Order 2006; Plant Health (Scotland) Order 2005; Plant Health (Forestry) Order 2005; Plant Health (Forestry) (Phytophthora ramorum)(Great Britain) Order 2004; Plant Health (Phytophthora ramorum)(England) Order 2004; Plant Health (Phytophthora ramorum)(Wales) Order 2006
The Plant Health Act 1967 provides the regulatory framework for the control of pests and diseases injurious to agricultural or horticultural crops or to trees and bushes. Various European obligations including Directive 2000/29/EC, provide protective measures against the introduction into and spread within the EU of organisms harmful to plants and plant products. The Welsh Ministers are the competent authority for Wales for the protection of forest trees and timber and all other plants.

The Destructive Imported Animals Act 1932
This Act restricts the import and keeping of certain destructive non-indigenous animals including Muskrat Ondata zibethicus, Coypu Myocastor coypus, Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis , Mink Mustela vison and 'non-indigenous' rabbits.

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
This Act was introduced in response to public concern about the keeping of dangerous animals as pets by private individuals, and the possibility that they might escape into the wild. Licences are required for any animal which appears on a schedule to the Act.  The local authority is entitled to specify where and how an animal is kept.

Environmental Protection Act 1990
This Act has very limited provisions for non-native species, but is included here due to the potential classification of soil and other waste containing viable propagules of invasive non-native plant species as controlled waste. This has been applied to Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica, with the result that waste containing this species must be disposed of in accordance with the duty of care set out in section 34 of the Act.

The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975
Section 30 of this Act makes it an offence to introduce or possess with the intention to introduce any fish or spawn of fish into inland waters without the permission of the Environment Agency in England and the Natural Resources Wales in relation to Wales. As well as covering non-native species, this Act also prohibits the introduction of native species outside their natural ranges.