Appropriate Assessment & Natura Impact Statements

BEC Consultants staff are qualified to carry out Appropriate Assessments and are highly experienced in this area. We have completed Appropriate Assessments and Natura Impact Statements (NIS) for numerous projects in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. Completed projects have included quarry developments, remediation of unauthorised landfills, offshore wind farms, pier developments, town plans and one-off housing.

Contact BEC Consultants to discuss your Appropriate Assessment requirements

We can undertake Appropriate Assessment projects throughout Ireland, particularly in Dublin, Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow. Please contact us at 01 6619713 or email to discuss your requirements.

Background Information on Appropriate Assessment

Following the implementation of the European Union Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), Ireland has designated areas for the protection of habitats and species. Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are designated for the protection of bird species, including rare and vulnerable species and regularly occurring migratory species, while Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are designated for the protection of habitats listed under Annex I, and flora and fauna species listed under Annex II. Together SPAs and SACs form the Natura 2000 network across Europe.

In Ireland, and its surrounding waters, there are some 423 SACs, covering an area of 13,556 km2, while 149 sites have been, or are in the process of being, designated as SPAs, covering an area of 5,016 km2. There is considerable overlap between SACs and SPAs.

Article 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive states the following:

6(3) Any plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, shall be subject to appropriate assessment of its implications for the site in view of the site’s conservation objectives. In the light of the conclusions of the assessment of the implications for the site and subject to the provisions of paragraph 4, the competent national authorities shall agree to the plan or project only after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site concerned and, if appropriate, after having obtained the opinion of the general public.

6(4) If, in spite of a negative assessment of the implications for the site and in the absence of alternative solutions, a plan or project must nevertheless be carried out for imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature, the Member State shall take all compensatory measures necessary to ensure that the overall coherence of Natura 2000 is protected. It shall inform the Commission of the compensatory measures adopted.

Where the site concerned hosts a priority natural habitat type and/or a priority species, the only considerations which may be raised are those relating to human health or public safety, to beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment or, further to an opinion from the Commission, to other imperative reasons of overriding public interest.

Under these articles, plans and projects must be assessed for likely significant effects on Natura 2000 sites through the Appropriate Assessment process. This is a staged process and progress to the next stage is necessary where likely significant effects cannot be definitively ruled out, or mitigated against, beyond reasonable scientific doubt. The stages of the process are:

1. Screening

This stage determines whether appropriate assessment is necessary. The proposed project is defined and an assessment is made of the potential for significant effects upon the Natura 2000 network, either alone or in combination with other projects. Plans or projects directly connected with, or necessary to, the nature conservation management of the site do not require an appropriate assessment.

2. Appropriate Assessment

If there is potential for a significant effect on the Natura 2000 network an Appropriate Assessment is required.  During this stage the impact of the project on the conservation objectives of the Natura 2000 sites is assessed and measures are proposed to avoid or reduce these impacts such that they do not result in a significant impact.  The outcome of the assessment establishes whether the plan will have an adverse effect on the integrity of the Natura 2000 site. Factors such as the magnitude, extent, duration and reversibility of the effect are considered in this assessment.

3. Alternative Solutions

Before a project that has adverse effects on a Natura 2000 site can proceed for imperative reasons of overriding public interest it must be objectively concluded that no less-damaging alternative solutions exist.

4. Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest (‘IROPI’)

Where no alternative options exist and adverse impacts remain but imperative reasons of overriding public interest for the project exist, compensatory measures must be implemented to ensure the overall coherence of the Natura 2000 site.

BEC Consultants prepare Natura Impact Statements with regard to the following national and EU guidance: