Under the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC any plan or project that may have an impact on European designated sites requires an Appropriate Assessment. In marine planning, the Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) runs parallel to the plan-making process and ensures that it conforms to The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010).
Based on established guidance for undertaking Plan-level HRAs, our Environment team carried out an auditable assessment to determine whether the Plan will have a ‘likely significant effect’ on sites designated for their nature conservation interest at a European level. We then assessed whether the integrity of these sites will be adversely affected.
Where it could not be determined that there would be no adverse effect on integrity then mitigation measures were identified for each of the impact pathways to seek to avoid any adverse effect. Adopting a precautionary approach, as required by the Habitats Directive, the study considered potential impacts to over 370 designated sites which were screened into the assessment.
The Appraisal informed the Appropriate Assessment that Marine Scotland, as competent authority, needed to prepare prior to adopting the draft Plan for Offshore Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy.
All related HRA documents can be downloaded from the Marine and Fisheries page of the Scottish Government website.