Approach to the consenting process
Reviews of consents
New plans and projects
Reviews of consents
Whilst similar approaches to assessing 'likely
and 'no adverse effect'
will be required both for new plans or projects
and for reviews of consents, there are important
differences in procedure between these two. The
various stages in the 'review'
process are outlined in the joint EA/EN/CCW guidance
Guidance for the Review of Environment Agency
Permissions: Determining Relevant Permissions and
(March 1999), and this should be referred to for
guidance on the review process (see also EN Habitat
Regulations Guidance Note 1 ('Appropriate
and CCW guidance on 'Significant Impact').
The reader should note that the legislative requirements
for dealing with new proposals and review of consents
may be different in Scotland. In determining whether
a significant effect is likely during the review
of consents, conservation officers can use their
knowledge of the site=s
current and past condition in advising whether the
consent is likely to have an effect. A flow diagram
showing the steps involved in the consultation process
for reviews of consents is given in the joint EA/EN/CCW
guidance note referred to above.
One of four approaches should be presented to the
competent authority when the opinion of the statutory
nature conservation body is sought on the likely
role of the consented activity in affecting site
condition during the review of consents:
A. The designated feature is in favourable
condition and there is no evidence to suggest
existing consents are currently having a significant
B. The designated feature is in favourable
condition but there is concern that a water
quality problem caused by a consented discharge
may be threatening that condition and/or causing
a decline in it..
C. The designated feature is in unfavourable
condition, but this can be attributed to a factor
unrelated to water quality, e.g. vegetation
management, and there is no evidence to suggest
relevant consents are currently having a 'significant
D. The designated feature is in unfavourable
condition and poor water quality may be or is
likely to be responsible.
As the joint EA/EN/CCW guidance note on judging
likely significant effect during reviews of consents
points out, there may be circumstances where a discharge
consent which is currently not having a significant
effect may not be operating at its full capacity.
Increasing the discharge up to that level may have
an adverse effect and so, although the feature may
currently be in good condition, the consent conditions
may nevertheless need to be revised. The joint guidance
note should be consulted for fuller details of the
process currently agreed between the conservation
agencies and the EA.
The present guidance document should be used to
help to determine whether relevant consents are
likely to have a significant effect. The information
provided here should help in deciding whether a
mechanism exists whereby the conservation feature
may be affected by the authorised activity; whether
that mechanism is likely to be operating under the
particular circumstances being considered; and whether
the scale of effect is likely to be significant.
The guidance should help in deciding whether further
information is needed before a judgement on significant
effect can be reached. It should also help at the
later stage in the process when judging 'no
adverse effect on integrity'.
In that case, the guidance should be used to help
determine what information is needed during the
assessment and what further studies may be needed
to help provide that information. If you are in
doubt, seek advice from your national specialists
as well as from EA conservation staff and specialists.
New plans and projects
When dealing with an authorisation for new plans
and projects the assessment of site condition ('A'
above) will play a less significant role, and judgements
are likely to depend more upon modelling future
impacts, although a decision on the capacity of
the site to respond to, e.g. further pollution loadings,
will depend upon an understanding of its response
to current loadings. In dealing with such situations,
this guidance should help in understanding the output
from model predictions and in proposing suitable
monitoring requirements. Users of this manual should
also refer to forthcoming joint EA/EN/CCW guidance
on applying the Habitats Regulations to new Agency
authorisations and activities (EAS/3100/4/2).