Understanding the Natura 2000 network and Appropriate Assessment

Organisation profile

The company Aster Environmental Consultants Ltd. was formed in 2001 by Marie Louise Heffernan (CEnv, MIEEM) to meet an increasing demand for ecological and other environmental services in  Ireland.

We specialise in Appropriate Assessment of projects within, or close to, areas designated for the protection of nature. These Natura 2000 sites protected under the Habitats Directive are known as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA).

Training aim

To impart an understanding of the Natura 2000 network  and the basis for Habitats Directive Assessments to professionals. 

Learning objectives

Participants will be able to interact with other professionals in relation to projects within such designated areas. They will be able to advise clients if a screening for Appropriate Assessment is required and will be able to indicate if the project may require a full Appropriate Assessment (Natura Impact Statement). Most importantly they will be able to seek minor changes to a project at an early stage and through this may avoid the need for a Stage 2 assessment.

Course outline

Legal background of Birds and Habitats Directives and the 2010 Planning Act in relation to Natura 2000 sites.

Boundary selection and Conservation Objectives of Special Areas Conservation and Special Protection Areas.

What is Appropriate Assessment? Who are the competent authorities?

Case studies of  Appropriate Assessment including mitigating measures.

Exercises in application of Appropriate Assessment using examples of housing, energy, quarrying and road projects.

Trainer's profile

Marie Louise Heffernan is a Chartered Environmental Scientist and a full member of the Inistitute of Ecological and Environmental Managers (MIEEM). Shehas 20 years experience in the environmental sector specialising in assessments under the Habitats Directive. She has specialised in Appropriate Assessment and also has  experience surveying SACs and SPAs, in designated areas appeals and has represented clients at An Bord Pleanala hearings in relation to developments within Natura 2000 sites.

Course duration

One day course from 10am to 4 pm

Assessment & certification

The course includes two mini assessments which are not mandatory. A certificate of completion will be issued following the course.

Who should attend

Engineers or other professionals who require information on implementation of the Habitats Directive in Ireland to service their clients needs.

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