Planning, building and the environment

Appropriate Assessment

Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora requires that any plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of a designated habitats site, but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, is to be subject to an Appropriate Assessment (AA) of its implications for the site in view of the site's conservation objectives. Where significant negative effects are identified, alternative options should be examined to avoid any potential damaging effects. Part IV of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994 implements this for specified planning and other similar consents. In October 2005 the European Court of Justice ruled that this requirement extended to land use plans. This has now been set out in the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 which inserts a new Part IVA into the 1994 Regulations and came into force on 21 August 2007. 
Land use plans to which AA is applicable include Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs), transitional plans, Development Plan Documents (DPDs) and Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs). This has important implications for Regional Planning Bodies and Local Planning Authorities who are responsible for assessing whether an AA is necessary for land use plans they prepare, and carrying out the AA where it is required. 

Communities and Local Government released draft guidance on the application of AA on RSSs, DPDs and SPDs, which is available below.

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