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Appropriate Assessments

Appropriate Assessment is an ecological assessment focused on how a plan or project may impact Natura 2000 sites. The EU Habitats Directive requires that where a plan or project is likely to have a significant impact or potential to impact designated Natura 2000 sites they must be screened for Appropriate Assessment.

Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all 28 EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

The four stages of Appropriate Assessment

Stage 1

Screening Appropriate Assessment

Screening determines whether appropriate assessment is necessary by examining whether or not a plan or project can be excluded from AA requirements and by identifying the potential effects of a project or plan on a Natura 2000 site.

Stage 2

Natura Impact Statement

The impact of a project or plan alone (and in combination with other projects or plans) on the integrity of the Natura 2000 site is considered with respect to the conservation objectives of the site and to its structure and function.

Stage 3

Alternative Solutions

The assessment of alternative solutions examines other ways of implementing a project or plan that, where possible, avoids any adverse impacts on the integrity of a Natura 2000 site.

Stage 4

Imperative reasons of overriding public interest

In the absence of appropriate alternative solutions, the competent authority must establish whether or not the plan or project can be considered to be necessary for imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI). These can include the need to have reasons of a social or economic nature that critically require the realisation of the plan or project in question.

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