To ensure Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations 1995 (Northern Ireland) (as amended) are operable after the end of the EU transition period, changes have been made by the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. The changes are largely procedural and affect government and include the transfer of functions from the European Commission to DAERA.
Key factors to note include:
- There are no changes to existing processes for the protection and management of protected sites such as seeking permission to undertake certain activities or licencing requirements, whether these responsibilities or duties are under The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 (as amended) or other legislation such as the Environment Order.
- There are no changes to the requirement for Competent Authorities to undertake Habitats Regulations Assessments (HRAs) to assess the impacts of any plan, project or activity that may affect a European Site prior to approvals or other authorisations being granted.
- Planning Authorities still need to observe the same obligations and undertake the same functions as before.