Habitats Regulations Assessment - Test of Likely Significant Effects
Representation ID: 99436
Respondent: Natural England
Natural England would like to reiterate our comments made in response to the initial consultation on the NMWLP in 2018 (letter dated 13 August 2018, Our ref: 251305) regarding our advice to consider the judgement from the Court of Justice of the European Union, case C-323/17 People Over Wind v Coillte Teoranta (‘People Over Wind’). We note that our advice has been acknowledged and has guided the reassessment of sites MIN 96, MIN 25, MIN69, MIN 207, MIN 202 and MIN 65.
With reference to the HRA screening process for Likely Significant Effects, it is noted that for several policies (including WP2: Spatial Strategy for waste management facilities; MP1: Provision for minerals extraction; and MP2: Spatial strategy for mineral extraction) the phrase, “these impacts could be mitigated through the design and operation of the sites.” has been used frequently. Please note, to reflect the ruling of ‘People Over Wind’, mitigation through design and operation of a site can only be included at screening stage if the design and operation measures are considered integral to the project and have not specifically been included in the plan policies to mitigate impacts to a designated site. We would advise that the wording in the HRA is revised to make this clear.
Natural England agrees with the statement made in paragraph 6.19 of the NMWLP, which states, “Planning permission for minerals or waste management development affecting an international site (SPAs, SACs or Ramsar sites) will only be granted where the conclusions of a project-level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA), where one is required, demonstrate that the proposal will have no adverse impacts on the integrity of any site, either alone or in combination with other plans or projects.”
Please note that the Norfolk County Council Planning Officer’s comments made in Table 1.3 of the HRA in response to Natural England’s comments stating, “We do not consider that there are any sites now concluded suitable to allocate in the Preferred Options document where a project level HRA would be required,” implies that a project level HRA would not be required for any of the allocated sites. Natural England advise that the HRA comments are revised to reflect the position made in paragraph 6.19 of the NMWLP that a project level HRA will be carried out when one is required.
It has also been noted that the wrong policy has been referenced in the HRA screening for mineral specific policies. When screening MP2: Spatial strategy for mineral extraction (page 22) it states, “Proposed sites located in proximity to the Breckland SPA will also need to comply with Policy MW5.” It is understood that this should be Policy MW4.