NAT1 European and Ramsar Sites - International

Closeddate_range16 Oct, 2019, 9:30am - 11 Dec, 2019, 5:00pm

Policy NAT1 European and Ramsar Sites - International

Planning permission will only be granted for a development proposal that, either individually or in combination with existing and/or proposed plans or projects, is not likely to have a significant effect on:

  1. a European Site (Special Protection Area, proposed Special Protection Area, Special Areas of Conservation, candidate Special Areas of Conservation and Sites of Community Importance); or
  2. a listed or proposed Ramsar Site.

Where a development proposal is likely to have a significant effect (either alone or in combination) or reasonable scientific doubt remains, Council will carry out an appropriate assessment60 of the implications for the site in view of the site’s conservation objectives. Only after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site shall Council grant planning permission with conditions to secure necessary mitigation measures.

In exceptional circumstances, a development proposal which could adversely affect the integrity of a European or Ramsar Site may only be permitted where:

  1. there are no alternative solutions; and
  2. the proposed development is required for imperative reasons of overriding public interest; and
  3. compensatory measures are agreed and fully secured.61

In such exceptional circumstances, where a European or Ramsar site hosts a priority habitat or priority species listed in Annex I or II of the Habitats Directive, a development proposal will only be permitted when:

  • it is necessary for reasons of human health or public safety or there is a beneficial consequence of primary importance to the environment; or
  • it is agreed in advance with the European Commission.

Justification and Amplification

European designations such as SACs, SPAs and Ramsar sites are afforded the highest form of statutory protection as they are designated under European law under the auspices of the Birds Directive (which protects wild birds and their habitats) and the Habitats Directive (which protects habitats and other species of animals and plants)62. Sites which are under consideration as SPAs or SACs are referred to as pSPA (proposed) or cSAC (candidate).

A list of existing European and Ramsar sites and further information can be found at www.daera-ni.gov.uk/northern-ireland-environment-agency. Technical Supplement 10 Countryside Assessment also lists those sites currently designated or proposed within or overlapping the Mid and East Antrim council boundary.

  • 60 - The appropriate assessment fulfils the requirements of Regulation 43 (1) of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 (as amended).
  • 61 - Through conditions or a planning agreement – “legal certainty” as required by ECJ case law.
  • 62 - Directives 2009/147/EC and 92/43/EEC known as the Birds Directive and Habitats Directive.

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