Habitats regulations assessment
Habitats and species that are vulnerable, rare or threatened are protected by the European Union Habitats Directive. The Habitats Directive’s aim is to conserve habitats and wild species across Europe through the establishment of a network of sites which are known as the Natura 2000 sites.
Natura 2000 sites include:
In the UK, the Habitats Directive is implemented through the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (the “Habitats Regulations”).
Under the Habitats Regulations, a habitats regulations assessment is required where a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a Natura 2000 site. Each project or plan must consider likely effects either on its own, or in combination with other plans or projects.
 Outline of an Habitats Regulations Assessment
A habitats regulations assessment is a detailed, precautionary process that is based on the conservation objectives of a site’s qualifying interests (the reason the site was designated). The main purpose is to ensure that there are no adverse effects on the Natura 2000 site. A habitats regulations assessment must be detailed and well recorded throughout.
The process involves four stages:
- Stage 1: Screening – the initial process which identifies the likely impacts of a plan or project on a Natura 2000 site. It considers whether the impacts are likely to be significant.
- Stage 2: Appropriate Assessment – if the screening stage has determined that proposals are likely to have a significant adverse impact on a Natura 2000 site, a more detailed assessment is required. If adverse effects are identified, an assessment of mitigation options is undertaken to determine the effects on the integrity of the site. If the mitigation options cannot avoid adverse effects, consent will only be granted if the next stages are followed.
- Stage 3: Assessment of alternative solutions – alternative methods of achieving the objectives of the plan or project are considered that avoid adverse impacts on the site.
- Stage 4: Assessment where no alternative solutions exist and where adverse impacts remain – assessment to determine if the plan or project is required for imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI) and, if so, the compensatory measures that are required to offset any impacts on the site.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Biodiversity offsetting.
- Designated sites.
- National nature reserves.
- National parks.
- Natura 2000 network.
- Natural England.
- Protected species.
- Ramsar sites.
- Sites of community importance.
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
- Special Area of Conservation.
- Special Protection Areas.
 External references
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