The objective of the Special Amenity Area Order is primarily to protect areas of outstanding natural beauty or special recreational value whilst having regard to any benefits for nature conservation.
Powers gained once a site is designated include control over all developments listed in planning acts and outlined in the relevant local authority development plans.
Local authorities must initially propose the site for designation which the minister of the environment then approves. The local authority is then responsible for enforcements within the Special Amenity Area. Initially three Special Amenity Area Orders were designated in Ireland. All are within the greater Dublin area and are not directly concerned with the protection of biodiversity These Special Amenity Area Orders were the Liffey Valley, North Bull Island and Howth Head. Special Amenity Area Orders, once designated are subject to review every five years by the relevant local authorities.