14. Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) 2010
European legislation, and our government's regulations, have introduced a need to carry out Habitats Regulations Assessment for local development documents (LDDs) and for particular development projects. This HRA focuses on HRA for the Core Strategy which is a LDD.
Why do we need to do it?
The EU legislation and our government's regulations which relate to it requires us to carry out HRA of most of the local development framework documents to protect the integrity of internationally important nature sites.
These internationally important nature sites include Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) which have important habitat features, Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which relate to bird populations, and Ramsar sites which are internationally important wetlands. SPAs and SACs are known as European sites and are part of the Natura 2000 network and all three types of site are also referred to as International sites.
The Exe Estuary is a SPA and a Ramsar site.
What does it do?
HRA assesses the likely impacts of the possible effects of a plan's policies on the integrity of International sites (including possible effects 'in combination' with other plans, projects or programmes).
Why is this helpful?
The HRA allows us to assess whether there are likely to be any impacts, how significant they are likely to be, whether any mitigation measures are needed to protect the sites, or whether it is not possible to offset any likely adverse effects from the plan.
In some cases HRA 'screening' shows that no significant effects are likely. If there are significant adverse effects on the integrity of the sites, the mitigation measures should be in place before the plan can be taken forward.
How will it work?
HRA is intended to be a systematic, consistent process through which the performance of a plan can be assessed for its likely impact on the integrity of sites while the plan is still being produced.