The Habitats Regulations requires competent authorities to assess certain plans or projects which affect European Sites (Natura 2000 network which includes Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar sites). Any development proposal, which requires planning permission or other consent, is a ‘project’ which may require consideration under the Habitats Regulations.
A Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) involves an initial screening exercise, which identifies all European Sites within the Zone of Influence of the Development and scopes in those sites that may be impacted upon by the works. It then concludes whether the proposed works are likely to have a significant effect on those European Sites, alone or in-combination with other projects. If a likely significant effect is concluded, then an Appropriate Assessment is required, to be carried out by the competent authority in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). A report to aid an Appropriate Assessment analyses the potentially significant effects highlighted during the screening exercise, by focusing on the qualifying interests of the European Sites and the impacts on their conservation objectives. Mitigation measures will need to be applied to avoid or reduce the impacts and to ensure there is no adverse effect on the site’s integrity.
Echoes Ecology can undertake and report upon the Screening and Appropriate Assessment stages of the HRA, which will enable a competent authority to ascertain whether the project will adversely affect the integrity of a European Site.
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