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Habitats Regulations Assesment (HRA)

Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA)

Habitats Regulations Assessments are ecological evaluations required to assess the potential impacts of a plan or project on a specific network of nature conservation sites. Often referred to as ‘European Sites’, these nature reserves are designated in order to protect the most rare and vulnerable habitats on the continent, and to protect migratory species; for example birds may breed in one country but also require protection whilst over-wintering in another country.


Under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended), an authority assessing whether or not to grant permission for an activity (described as the ‘competent authority’ within the legislation), must first determine whether the proposals will have a ‘likely significant effect’ on the network of European Sites. To do this, the competent authority must draw on available objective information to determine if there is a possibility of the proposals undermining the features (habitats or species) for which the sites are designated.


The competent authority will often require the applicant to provide a screening (or scoping) document, where an ecologist pulls together all relevant information, so as to allow the competent authority to reach an informed decision regarding the likelihood of adverse effects on European Sites. Durham Dales Ecology has an excellent understanding of the legislation and process in relation to HRAs, and has compiled detailed screening reports for a variety of schemes.


Where the screening stage identifies potential risks, Durham Dales Ecology also has experience of producing Appropriate Assessments, where mitigatory measures can be introduced to ameliorate identified risks.


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