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Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA)

The Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, otherwise known as the Habitats Directive, was adopted across the European Union in 1992. This has been transposed into UK law through the Conservation Regulations 1994 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

The Directive specifies the method for assessing the impacts of development, or any potentially damaging activity, on Natura 2000 sites, i.e. Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), in addition to Ramsar sites within the UK. This is more commonly referred to as a ‘Habitats Regulations Assessment’ and it comprises two stages. The first is a test of whether a significant impact is likely to occur (‘likely significant effect’) and, if so, an Appropriate Assessment must be undertaken. This will then be assessed by the planning authority, or similar ‘competent authority’.

We can provide advice on the likelihood of an impact occurring on a Natura 2000 site (included as standard within our PEA reports), as well as undertake the necessary studies to inform an Appropriate Assessment.

The Directive also specifies the method for development affecting European protected species, such as bats, great crested newts and hazel dormouse. There are three ‘tests’, which must be overcome in order to justify activities which may have a negative impact upon these species. A licence can only be granted if:

  • It preserves public health or safety, or there is overriding public interest for other reasons, such as social or economic benefits of primary importance for the environment
  • There is “no satisfactory alternative”
  • It “will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range”

We are able to undertake the necessary survey work and apply for European protected species Mitigation (EPSM) licences for all commonly recorded species, such as bats, great crested newt and hazel dormouse.

Please contact us for any further information and we can also discuss your specific requirements further.

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