Habitat Regulations Assessment

Our team has extensive experience of preparing Habitat Regulations Assessments.

We have worked on both plans and projects with the potential to affect a range of internationally designated sites, including Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Ramsar sites.

Working together to deliver results

  • We have built up a reputation for the quality of our work in ecologically sensitive areas over a period in excess of 40 years. We thrive on the challenge of working on projects within sensitive locations and we have demonstrable experience of working together to deliver results.

    ‘Natura 2000’ sites include Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). The term ‘habitats sites’ was introduced in relation to these sites by the National Planning Policy Framework.

  • ‘Habitats sites’ also relate to Ramsar sites and other sites afforded the same level of protection as these. These sites receive protection under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, as amended.

    Where a plan or project may result in a likely significant effect to a site, then an appropriate assessment will be required.  This stage needs to provide the certainty that, taking account of the proposed mitigation measures, the plan or project would not have an adverse effect on the integrity of the site. This process is known as a Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA).


Our skills and experience

Our team has extensive experience of carrying out ecological surveys and Ecological Impact Assessments in sensitive areas, often as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitat Regulations Assessment.

We adhere to the most up-to date professional standards of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

We have experience in working on plans and projects with the potential to affect internationally designated sites, including the Bath and Bradford on Avon Bats SAC; North Somerset and Mendip Bats SAC; South Hams SAC; Dorset Heaths SAC; Thursley, Ash, Pirbright and Chobham SAC; Poole Harbour SPA; Salisbury Plain SPA; and Thames Basin Heaths SPA.

It is the legal responsibility of the competent authority, usually the LPA, to undertake the HRA. The information and data used during the planning process can, however, be prepared and collated by us.  We have extensive experience of producing reports to inform a HRA. We work closely with the key stakeholders to deliver positive outcomes.

We have particular experience with working on projects that relate to recreational pressure, noise and visual disturbance, habitat loss and air quality effects on the qualifying features of Natura 2000 ‘habitat sites’.

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Development proposals can sometimes give rise to a potential significant effect even when your site is located some distance away from a ‘habitat site’. We can provide you with advice as to where there might be a HRA requirement for your project.

Plan-level HRA

We have undertaken a range of strategic plan Habitats Regulation Assessments, working with government agencies and local authorities, to identify the likely significant effects of their emerging plans or policies on ‘habitat sites’ at the screening stage.

Where likely significant effects of the plan or policy cannot be discounted, an appropriate assessment will need to be undertaken. This stage can take account of any likely mitigation measures that could be incorporated, and delivered with certainty, to ensure no adverse effect on the integrity of the site. We can advise and support you through this process as you develop your plan or policy, and we will work proactively with key stakeholders to deliver a plan that is HRA compliant.

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Project-level HRA

We have extensive experience of undertaking HRA across a wide range of ‘habitat sites’. We ensure that the assessment is based on robust baseline data, and through survey data collection, we ensure we have full appreciation of the qualifying features and sensitives of the site.

Following a comprehensive review of potential impacts that may raise as a result of the project, a detailed assessment can be undertaken to identify the likely significant effects. Where effects cannot be discounted, then an appropriate assessment will be required. We will work proactively with the design team to ensure that appropriate and pragmatic mitigation is incorporated into the scheme to ensure no adverse effect on the integrity of the site.

We work closely with clients and key stakeholders throughout this process to deliver a project that is HRA compliant.

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Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace

As part of the HRA process, there may be a requirement to contribute to, or provide, Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG) when proposing residential development within close proximity to specific SPAs. We can advise you on the requirements and contribute to SANG design.

We have designed and implemented new areas of SANG, liaising with Natural England to ensure project proposals meet the SANG criteria.

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If you need assistance with any aspect of a Habitat Regulations Assessment, please call us on 01225 876990 or complete the contact form.

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