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The Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007

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Additional requirements relating to the Habitats Regulations

17.—(1) the Department must not grant consent for a project that would involve doing anything which would be unlawful under regulations 39, 41 or 43 of the Habitats Regulations(1)(but that does not include anything for which a licence has been granted under regulation 44 of those Regulations).

(2) Paragraphs (3) to (6) apply when the Department is deciding whether to grant consent for a project (a “habitats project”) which is likely to have a significant effect on a European site or Area of Special Scientific Interest either alone or in combination with other projects.

(3) Unless paragraph (4) applies, the Department may only grant consent for a habitats project if it has considered the implications of that project for the European site or Area of Special Scientific Interest (including an appropriate assessment of the implications in view of that site’s conservation objectives) and is satisfied that that project will not adversely affect the integrity of the site.

(4) If the Department is satisfied that a habitats project must be carried out for imperative reasons of overriding public interest (which, subject to paragraph (5), may be of a social or economic nature) and that there is no alternative solution, it may grant consent for that project even though the assessment of its implications for a European site or Area of Special Scientific Interest is negative.

(5) If the European site or Area of Special Scientific Interest hosts a priority natural habitat type or a priority species, the reasons in paragraph (4) must be either—

(a)reasons relating to human health, public safety or beneficial consequences of primary importance to the environment, or

(b)other reasons which in the opinion of the European Commission are, in the case of the site concerned, imperative reasons of overriding public interest.

(6) If the Department decides to grant consent for a habitats project in accordance with paragraph (4), it must secure that any necessary compensatory measures are taken to ensure that the overall coherence of Natura 2000 (within the meaning of regulation 2(1) of the Habitats Regulations) is protected.

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