13.3.10 Appropriate Assessment

With introduction of the EU Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and the EU Habitats Directive (43/92/EEC) came the obligation to establish the Natura 2000 network of sites of highest biodiversity importance for rare and threatened habitats and species across the EU. In Ireland, the Natura 2000 network of European sites comprises Special Areas of Conservation (including candidate SACs), and Special Protection Areas (including proposed SPAs).

The aim of both directives is to maintain and, where necessary, restore the favourable conservation status of natural habitats and species across Europe, and in this way to contribute to sustainable development and to promote the maintenance of Europe’s biodiversity.

Appropriate Assessment (AA) is a key protection mechanism for the relevant sites and species, whereby it is a requirement to consider the potential nature conservation implications of any plan or project on the Natura 2000 site network before any decision is made to allow that plan or project to proceed. AA is a focused and detailed impact assessment of the implications of a plan or project, alone and in combination with other plans and projects, on the integrity of a Natura 2000 site in view of its conservation objectives. Requirements for compliance with AA are set out in the Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended).

‘Appropriate Assessment of Plans and Projects in Ireland – Guidance for Planning Authorities’ (2009)’, jointly prepared by National Parks and Wildlife Service and Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, provides more detailed guidance on AA and is available to view at the following link:

http://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/ publications/pdf/NPWS_2009_AA_ Guidance.pdf