The DETR/Welsh Office guidance on European marine sites in England and Wales states that full account should be taken of the cost implications in developing management schemes. Costs should be proportionate to likely benefits in terms of the conservation objectives. Relevant authorities will be responsible for their own costs arising from their participation in the process of developing the management scheme. They act within their existing powers and duties and will therefore also be responsible for bearing the costs of implementation and enforcement of those parts of the scheme which fall within their jurisdictions. However, additional costs of operating an SAC will arise largely with respect to the co-ordination of effort between relevant authorities.

There will be costs associated with the administration process of developing, running and documenting the management scheme and the dissemination of information. Relevant authorities may agree locally to share these costs, which are expected to be small, with the possible exception of events such as the publication of the management scheme document. There will also be costs associated with setting up the consultative process, even if it is integrated with an existing consultative mechanism, such as an associated voluntary estuary plan or forum. These costs may peak shortly after the first consultation document is produced. In setting up the consultative process relevant authorities should be sensitive to the costs incurred by voluntary groups and other interests who will wish to contribute to the advisory group.

The costs of condition monitoring of the site to assess whether conservation objectives are being met normally falls to the country conservation agencies, although other authorities should, within their statutory functions, make a contribution to this and be prepared to share data. The costs of compliance monitoring will be borne by the relevant authorities and will generally require little additional work, forming part of their every day management activities. A co-ordinated and collaborative approach to monitoring and data sharing may yield considerable benefits in reducing effort and costs, avoiding duplication and ensuring a consistent approach.

Just as the costs involved in managing an SAC should be proportionate to likely benefits in terms of the conservation objectives, the same is true for any costs associated with the adoption of good practice in avoiding, minimising or addressing adverse impacts on the site. In practice, the adoption of the ‘BATNEEC’ and ‘BPEO’ approaches are synonymous where environmental action is concerned.

The actual total expenditure of relevant authorities on environmental matters can be difficult to determine because accounting systems assign costs and revenues to departments or operational functions and rarely provide a convenient means for aggregating environmental expenditures. Furthermore, expenditure for other reasons can have direct environmental benefits. For example, dust separation for health reasons or to reduce a potential nuisance may generate an environmental gain. In the event that an operation is causing the deterioration or disturbance to the marine features of the site, possible actions to remedy the matter may well be expensive. Remediation actions may, under certain circumstances, attract funding from grant sources, such as the Entrust mechanism for recycling landfill tax and the European LIFE programme.

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