National guidance for planning authorities on Appropriate Assessment of plans and projects in Ireland was published by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG) in 2009. It was updated in 2010, by replacing the term “Statement for Appropriate Assessment” with “Natura Impact Statement” or “NIS”.
This guidance is intended to assist and guide planning authorities in the application of Article 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive as it relates to their roles, functions and responsibilities in undertaking Appropriate Assessment of plans and projects. It applies to plans and projects for which public authorities receive an application for consent, and to plans or projects which a public authority wishes to undertake or adopt.
It sets out the different steps and stages that are needed in establishing whether a plan or project can be implemented without adversely affecting the integrity of a Natura 2000 site.
The guidance addresses issues of mitigation and avoidance of impacts, and also the Article 6(4) derogation provisions for circumstances in which there are no alternatives and for which there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI) requiring a plan or project to proceed.
Readers may observe a degree of repetition in the Guidance. This is intentional, as the document is intended for reference.
This guidance was prepared jointly by the NPWS and Planning Divisions of DEHLG, with input from local authorities. It preceded, but anticipated, the legislation which now transposes the Birds and Habitats Directives in Ireland, i.e. the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, and parallel provisions relating to Appropriate Assessment in planning legislation (i.e. Part XAB of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended and associated Regulations).
European Commission Guidance
The European Commission has also published guidance on Article 6 of the Habitats Directive, including on Appropriate Assessment Screening. Please see the guidance documents: Assessment of plans and projects significantly affecting Natura 2000 sites (November 2001) and Managing Natura 2000 sites: The provisions of Article 6 of the ‘Habitats’ Directive (2018). Both available at this link: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/management/guidance_en.htm
Last updated: 31/01/2020