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(1)The 2004 Act is amended as follows.
(2)After section 5 insert—
(1)Where SNH considers that two or more sites of special scientific interest should be combined, it may notify that fact to the persons who are the interested parties in relation to the sites in question.
(2)Subsections (4) to (7) of section 3 apply in relation to a notification under subsection (1) as they apply to a notification under section 3(1), but as if—
(a)references in section 3(4)(a)(ii) and (iii) to a natural feature were references to the natural features by reason of which SNH considers the original sites to be of special interest, and
(b)section 3(4) required the notification to also be accompanied by a revised site management statement prepared in relation to the combined site of special scientific interest.
(3)Accordingly, from the date when notification is given under subsection (1)—
(a)that notification is an “SSSI notification” for the purposes of this Act,
(b)the combined site of special scientific interest is a single “site of special scientific interest” for the purposes of this Act, and
(c)the original SSSI notifications cease to have effect.
(4)SNH must give public notice describing the general effect of an SSSI notification given by virtue of subsection (1) in such manner (including on the internet or by other electronic means) as SNH thinks fit.
(5)Nothing in this section allows SNH to—
(a)include any land in a combined site of special scientific interest which was not included in at least one of the original sites of special scientific interest,
(b)add to the operations requiring consent specified in the original SSSI notifications (otherwise than by extending the original area to which any such operation requiring consent related so as to include any land in the combined site of special scientific interest).”.
(3)In section 48(11)(a) (notices etc.), after “5(1)” insert “ , 5A(1) ”.
(4)In section 58(1) (interpretation)—
(a)in the definition of “site of special scientific interest”, after “3(6)” insert “ (read, where necessary, together with section 5A(3)(b)) ”,
(b)in the definition of “SSSI notification”, after “3(5)” insert “ (read, where necessary, together with section 5A(3)(a)) ”.
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