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Requirement for Appropriate Assessment

To view the Final Assessments please select Final North Solent SMP and select the relevant appendix and annex

The area covered by the North Solent SMP supports significant assemblages of habitats and species that are protected through international nature conservation designations, which include:

  • Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) identified through the EU Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC);
  • Special Protection Areas (SPA) identified through the Birds Directive (Council Directive 79/409/EEC);
  • Ramsar sites designated under the Ramsar Convention (1971).

SACs and SPAs are collectively termed Natura 2000 sites.

The North Solent SMP area includes the following international and European designated sites:

  • Solent and Isle of Wight Lagoons SAC
  • Solent Maritime SAC
  • Solent and Southampton Water SPA
  • Portsmouth Harbour SPA
  • Pagham Harbour SPA
  • Langstone and Chichester harbours SPA
  • Solent and Southampton Water Ramsar site
  • Portsmouth Harbour Ramsar site
  • Pagham Harbour Ramsar site
  • Langstone and Chichester harbours Ramsar site

Legal protection for habitats and species of European importance is established in Article 6(3) of the EU Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC), it states;

"Any plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, shall be subject to appropriate assessment of its implications for the site in view of the site's conservation objectives"

This has been transposed into UK national law through the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994, known as the Habitats Regulations. The Habitats Regulations have recently been amended after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the UK had failed to correctly transpose the provisions of Article 6 (3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive into UK Law. The amended regulations came into force in 2007; Regulation 85 states the requirement of an AA for land-use plans. As SMPs have the potential to influence the development of land, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Natural England (NE) have agreed that SMPs require an AA if it is likely to have a significant effect on a European site.

An Appropriate Assessment (AA) is required when a competent authority considers that a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a European site.

The purpose of the AA is to assess whether the plan or project, which is not directly connected with the management of the European site (SPA, SAC or Ramsar site), would adversely affect the integrity of the site, either alone or in combination with other plans or projects.