The Habitats Directive national guidelines were published in 2009 and since then the words ‘Appropriate Assessment’ have become common parlance for engineers throughout Ireland. 

Appropriate Assessment is the process of assessing plans or projects in respect of the designated network of European Sites. Natura 2000 sites are an EU wide network of nature protection areas and comprise Special Protection Areas (birds) and Special Areas of Conservation (species and habitats).

Influence development decisions

This network of sites covers 13% of the Irish landscape. Standard practice is that all plans and projects within a 15km radius of these sites are assessed. Thus these designations influence development decisions over a large area of the country.

The 2030 biodiversity plan for Europe has at its goal 30% of the European landscape to be designated in the next 10 years. This will have significant implications for future engineering projects.

Already the Habitat Directive presents challenges for construction projects. The 2010 Planning Act has changed the rules on exemptions, extensions of time and retentions in respect of the Natura 2000 network.

Case law has strengthened the directive and it is now among the most powerful pieces of legislation in Europe. Knowledge of this legislation, and its implication for projects, will be key for engineers both now and into the future.

Aster Environmental Consultants at the Ecology Centre Letterfrack are here to help you to bring your knowledge and skill set up to date in this critical area. We were established in 2000 specialising in Habitats Directive.

We have trained more than 500 professionals in this area since 2010 and we are the registered training providers for this specialisation with Engineers Ireland since 2014.

We bring more than 25 years' experience of Natura 2000, including expert witness knowledge, to our training courses. We aim to give engineers clear comprehension of the directive and its legal implications to enable them serve their clients effectively in this area.

Our courses cover the following areas:

  1. The 2010 Planning Act and the Habitats Directive
  2. Retentions and extensions of time in respect of Natura 2000 obligations
  3. Natura 2000 boundaries – errors and appeals
  4. Substitute consent and remedial NIS
  5. Appropriate assessment and competent authorities
  6. Differentiating Natura impact statement and  Appropriate Assessment Screening
  7. Mitigating measures for species and habitats
  8. Understanding environmental reports EIA/SEA/AA 
  9. Correct use of terminology

We welcome inquiries for bespoke courses tailored to your needs. Courses may be on line or in person as required. Advertised courses are offered on line for 2021 due to Covid.