NRW are the competent authority and will be responsible for producing any Appropriate Assessment relating to the application. This does not preclude other competent organisations producing an Appropriate Assessment in support of an application.
Whilst not primarily responsible for AA, it is however in the developer’s interest to provide all the relevant information to enable NRW to undertake the AA, which will then inform the decision as to whether consent can be given. Early engagement should help identify any issues and prevent delays at a later stage. It is the applicant’s responsibility to consult with the relevant statutory bodies and, if they consider it necessary, with any relevant non-statutory nature conservation bodies, in order to gather evidence for the HRA. This consultation should take place as early as possible in the pre-application process.
NRW recommends that sufficient information is provided in support of an application for these proposals in respect of both the EIA and HRA processes. This should include all of the measures that will be implemented to prevent damage to the European sites and/or Ramsar sites in the vicinity of the proposed development. The project details should clearly distinguish between mitigation (avoidance and reduction) measures and compensatory measures. Only mitigation measures will be taken into account in the AA. If there is insufficient information to carry out an AA, the project cannot proceed.
An example of what developers are expected to provide include:
- Summary of the project and the agreed assessment scope
- Description of the baseline environmental conditions (for those interest feature habitats and species that have been scoped into the assessment
- Review of the impact pathways
- Review of the relevant conservation objectives
- Assessment of the effects on the integrity of the designated site(s) against the conservation objectives
- Identification of mitigation measures if required
- Revisit conclusions about the effects on integrity in the light of the applied mitigation measures
- Assessment of the project’s impacts in-combination with other existing plans or projects that are in the planning domain.