Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan. Habitats Regulations Appraisal Record.

Habitats Regulations Appraisal Record.

2 Legal Context for HRA

2.1 Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive [3] requires that any plan or project which is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of a European/Ramsar site (also known as a Natura 2000 site), but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, shall be subject to an 'appropriate assessment' of its implications for the Natura site, in light of the site's conservation objectives.

2.2 Natura 2000 is an EU-wide network of nature protection areas established under the Habitats Directive, with the aim of conserving Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats and was developed to work towards their long-term survival. The network is comprised of SACs designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive, and also incorporates SPAs which are designated under the 1979 Birds Directive [4] . In addition, it is a matter of law that candidate SACs ( cSACs) and Sites of Community Interest ( SCI) should be considered as if they were designated, and that proposed SACs ( pSACs) and proposed SPAs ( pSPAs) should also be considered as if they were designated. Whilst not currently a legal requirement for consideration in HRA, the draft marine SPAs published in July 2014 [5] are expected to be issued for formal consultation in 2016. However, in the context of this HRA, these areas have been considered as if they have been designated.

2.3 The Directive adds that the competent authority shall agree to the plan only after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site concerned, unless in exceptional circumstances the provisions of Article 6(4) are met. This procedure is applied in Scotland through the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) [6] .


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