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Ecological Screening/Impact Statement (EIS) / Appropriate Assessment (AA) /
Natura Impact Assessment (NIA)

Natura 2000 Sites
With the introduction of the Birds Directive in 1979 and the Habitats Directive in 1992 came the obligation to establish the Natura 2000 network of sites of highest biodiversity importance for rare and threatened habitats and species across the EU. In Ireland, the Natura 2000 network of European sites comprises Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas.

What is Appropriate Assessment?
Appropriate Assessment involves a case-by-case examination of the implications of a development for the Natura 2000 site and its conservation objectives. This may be presented in the form of a Natura Impact Statement.

In general terms, implicit in Article 6(3) is an obligation to put concern for potential effects on Natura 2000 sites at the forefront of every decision made in relation to plans and projects at all stages.

Screening for Appropriate Assessment
The question is asked whether the development is considered to have a significant impact on the designated Natura 2000 site. Its purpose is to determine, on the basis of a preliminary assessment and objective criteria, whether a plan or project, alone and in combination with other plans or projects, could have significant effects on a Natura 2000 site in view of the site’s conservation objectives. If the answer is no then the process is complete.

Appropriate Assessment
A full Appropriate Assessment is required if the project is considered to potentially have a significant impact on the designated Natura 2000 site. Where significant effects are likely, uncertain or unknown at screening stage, Appropriate Assessment will be required. Appropriate Assessment is a focused and detailed impact assessment of the implications of the plan or project, alone and in combination with other plans and projects, on the integrity of a Natura 2000 site in view of its conservation objectives.

If it can be concluded on the basis of Appropriate Assessment that there will be no adverse effects on the integrity of a Natura 2000 site, the plan or project can proceed to authorisation, where the normal planning or other requirements will apply in reaching a decision to approve or refuse.

If adverse effects are likely then alternative ways of proceeding with the project may be evaluated and rescreened for Appropriate assessment. In many cases the project can be redesigned, or mitigating measures proposed, to minimise the impact.


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