To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the UK authorities exercise their responsibilities under the EU Habitats Directive relating to (a) the assessment of a plan or project likely to have an effect on a European wildlife site, (b) the consideration of alternative solutions and of imperative reasons of over-riding public interest in the case of a plan or project assessed as likely to have an adverse impact on the integrity of a European wildlife site and (c) European protected species.
Competent Authorities have a duty to make sure their responsibilities for assessing plans or projects likely to affect a European wildlife site are carried out in ways that agree with the provisions in Part IV of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).
Regulation 3(4) of the 1994 Regulations sets out a general duty for Competent Authorities to follow the requirements of the EC Habitats Directive if they may be affected when the Authorities exercise their functions. This duty also means that Competent Authorities, which are considering plans or projects not specified in Regulations 54–85, have to address the requirements of Article 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive.
The same general duty provided by Regulation 3(4) also applies to the requirements of the EC Habitats Directive about the protection and surveillance of European protected species and any operations that might adversely affect them, their eggs, breeding sites or places of shelter. This includes, in particular, the need to address the requirements of Articles 11–16 of the Habitats Directive.
The same or similar duties apply throughout the devolved Administrations.