Two levels of protection apply to native reptiles in the UK under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, as amended.
1) Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake are offered full protection, and all parts of Section 9 apply to these species. This prohibits the intentional killing, injuring or taking, the possession and the trade in wild animals listed on Schedule 5. In addition, places used for shelter and protection are safeguarded against intentional damage, destruction and obstruction and animals protected under the relevant part of section 9 must not be intentionally disturbed whilst occupying those places.
2) The Common Lizard, Slow-worm, Grass Snake and Adder are protected against killing and injury. Only part of sub-section 9(1) and all of sub-section 9(5) apply; which prohibit the intentional killing and injuring and trade. The habitat or refugia of these animals are not protected.
Planning policies now also reinforce the need for protected species surveys, the presence of which is a material consideration in determination of a planning application. Planning Policy Statement 9 (PPS9) is accompanied by Circular 06/2005 which provides guidance on implementation of UK and European wildlife laws and encourages measures to be taken to avoid harm to protected species and biodiversity as a whole.
I am an experienced reptile surveyor and I have overseen some large reptile mitigation projects including as part of the Broadland Flood Alleviation Project (that was runner up in the IEEM Best Practice Tony Bradshaw Award 2011!) with Applied Ecology Ltd in association with Broadland Environmental Services Ltd.