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Explanatory Memorandum to Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002

Part Iv: Areas of Special Scientific Interest.Background and Policy Objectives

33.The purpose of Part IV of the Order is to introduce measures to allow for the better protection and management of Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs). These sites represent the finest examples of semi-natural habitat and species sites to be found in Northern Ireland due to their fauna, flora or geological/physiographical features. The provisions of this Part will also satisfy the Northern Ireland Executive’s Programme for Government (PfG) commitment to have in place, by July 2003, a policy and legislative framework for the protection and management of these sites.

34.The provisions of Part IV will replace the existing provisions pertaining to ASSIs in Part VI of the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. The provisions are also comparable to the legislative provisions introduced to protect ASSI equivalent sites in England and Wales (namely Sites of Special Scientific Interest) as part of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. They will also help address the requirements of European designated sites by satisfying the requirements of Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna (the Habitats Directive) as transposed by the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995.

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