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

Habitats Regulations Appraisal Record.

3 Approach to the HRA

3.1 As illustrated in Figure 1, a six-step approach was developed for undertaking the HRA on the Pilot Plan, broadly reflecting the 13 stage methodology of the HRA process advocated in the SNH Guidance. This process was developed to simplify the process and customise it to the Pilot Plan and its policies while still reflecting the requirements of the Directive and the methodology in the SNH Guidance.

3.2 The Draft HRA Record was prepared and published within the Sustainability Appraisal ( SA) for the draft Pilot Plan and its policies, and was issued for public consultation alongside the draft Pilot Plan in July 2015. The Draft HRA Record noted the potential for changes to the Pilot Plan and/or its policies, including changes to the focus and scope of specific policies and the potential for the development of new policies for inclusion in the final Plan. As a consequence, the HRA Record remained in draft while the Pilot Plan and its policies were still being developed following the consultation. The HRA remained open during this period, and the findings of the screening process (Step 4) set out in the Draft HRA Record were regularly monitored and reviewed to identify the potential for impacts on the HRA process and whether there was a need for undertaking an AA (Step 5). This process culminated in the preparation and issue of the final HRA Record (this Record) for publication alongside the finalised Pilot Plan (Step 6).

3.3 The six-step process included:

  • Step 1: Decide if an HRA is required - A review of the requirement for HRA based upon the approach outlined in Stage 1 of Figure 1, based upon Section 2 of the SNH Guidance.
  • Step 2: Identify European sites - Identification of the European sites ( SACs, SPAs and Ramsar sites) to be considered in the screening of the Pilot Plan, reflecting Stages 2 and 3 outlined in the SNH Guidance.
  • Step 3: Impact pathways review and identify activities to which features are sensitive -
    • Identification of the impact pathways relevant for each of the policies in the Pilot Plan.
    • A review of the activities likely to arise from adoption of the Pilot Plan and its policies, and environmental changes which could have an impact on European/Ramsar sites or interest features via the identified impact pathways.
  • Step 4: Activity-based screening of Natura Sites -
    • Identification (screening) of those Natura sites and their relevant interest features for which there is a LSE, or for which a LSE cannot be excluded, from the relevant policies in the Pilot Plan and the impact pathways.
    • The identification and application of mitigation measures as applicable.
    • Steps 3 and 4 broadly represented Stages 5 - 7 in the process outlined in the SNH Guidance for Screening for LSE and consideration of the requirement for an 'Appropriate Assessment'.
  • Step 5: Detailed pathway-feature sensitivity review and assessment of the potential effects on European/Ramsar sites - If significant effects were considered likely based upon the Screening (Step 4), including after the application of mitigation measures, this would include:
    • A detailed review of the sensitivities of the relevant interest features to the identified impact pathways and activities likely to arise from adoption of the Pilot Plan and its policies.
    • Undertaking an Appropriate Assessment of the policies in the Pilot Plan to identify if there are adverse effects on the integrity of European sites, both alone and in-combination with other existing plans and projects. These steps in the process would represent Stages 8 and 9 in the process outlined in the SNH Guidance.
    • If required, the identification of available mitigation measures for each identified impact pathway and the identification of additional mitigation measures which ensure that these activities have no adverse effects on integrity ( AEOI).
    • Preparation of a Draft HRA Record, representing stage 10 in the process outlined in SNH Guidance.
  • Step 6: Preparation of the HRA Record - Involving consultation with SNH and other stakeholders and the public if appropriate, undertaking amendments to the Draft HRA Record and the Pilot Plan based upon comments, and preparation of the Final HRA Record. This step broadly represented the remaining stages 11 - 13 in the process outlined in SNH Guidance.


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