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Appropriate Assessment

The Appropriate Assessment process aims at assessing the significance of the impacts of a proposed plan or project (either individually or in combination with other proposals) on sites of EU importance (Natura 2000 sites). 

The Appropriate Assessment process stems from the EU Habitats Directive, but also applies vis-à-vis the EU Birds Directive. The Habitats Directive was introduced in 1992, and its assessment-related provisions also make reference to sites, habitats and species protected under the EU Birds Directive, which was introduced in 1979. The EU Habitats Directive is transposed into national legislation via Legal Notice 311 of 2006: Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006.

Regulation 19 of the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006 (Legal Notice 311 of 2006), based on Article 6 of the EC Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC), necessitates the submission of an Appropriate Assessment where a proposed plan or project (in their broadest meaning) is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the protected site and may give rise to significant effects upon a Natura 2000 site or on a habitat or species for which such Natura 2000 site was designated. The focus of the Appropriate Assessment is to assess the significance of impacts of the proposed development on designated features, habitats and/or species and on the conservation objectives of the site in order to maintain its integrity or improve the conservation status. The European Court of Justice rulings on the Habitats and Bird Directives has gone a long way in clarifying the application of the Appropriate Assessment and its process.