4 Integration of Habitats Regulations considerations
4.1.1 On the same timescale as the SEA, the HRA process commenced in 2018, with the preparation of, and consultation upon, a scoping report. The Scoping Report described the baseline information and methodology proposed for screening designated sites and subsequent assessment of likely significant effect. Comments received during the consultation were considered and integrated into the HRA.
4.1.2 The scoping report was followed by a detailed HRA Report in December 2019 which was based on the Draft Plan Option areas (Figure 2). This was consulted on in December 2019 to March 2020 and a consultation report prepared which summarises the comments.
4.1.3 Post consultation, and following agreement of the final Plan Options, as discussed in Section 1.1 and shown in Figure 3, a review of the HRA conclusions has been undertaken and is included in Annex C.
4.1.4 Both the published (and consulted upon) HRA and the update note (Annex C) concluded that significant effects on designated sites can be avoided, based on the application of both plan level mitigation, and further project level assessment and mitigation (discussed further below).
4.2 How the Habitats Regulations have been taken into account
4.2.1 The development of the Draft Plan was an iterative process which, based upon the conclusions of the HRA, incorporated a number of mitigation measures. This included the adoption of temporal mitigation as a key mitigation measure at a number of sites (NE2-NE6 and E3). In these cases, where insufficient evidence is currently available to conclude no adverse effect, development is to be delayed until such a time that further information is available to support a robust assessment.
4.2.2 In addition, the requirement for project level HRA and the application of project level mitigation, as identified within the HRA, is clearly articulated within the Plan, in order for the conclusion of no adverse effect at a plan level to remain valid.