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Licensing/Permitting and SACs


Prior to the Waddenzee judgement, Natura Impact Statements (formerly Appropriate Assessments) under the EU Habitats Directive were taken to apply to new plans and projects only. Following the judgement all applications for new permits or licenses, as well as reviews of existing permits or licenses, require assessment when a SAC (Special Area of Conservation) or SPA (Special Protection Area) may be impacted. This applies to IPPC Licenses issued by the EPA and Trade Effluent Permits issued by a Water Services Authority as well as other authorisations.

For example where an industry discharges to a river designated as an SAC, and where its licence or permit needs to be reviewed, an assessment will automatically be triggered. As a minimum a ‘screening’ exercise needs to be undertaken for any permit or licence that may have an impact, even if that impact already exists. The time required for this assessment needs to be factored in when timetabling applications to regulatory authorities. This is particularly the case where a full NIS is required.