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27.—(1) Where it appears to the appropriate nature conservation body that an application for consent under regulation 26(6)(a) relates to an operation which is or forms part of a plan or project which—
(a)is likely to have a significant effect on a European site (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects), and
(b)is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of that site,
they must make an appropriate assessment of the implications for that site in view of that site’s conservation objectives.
(2) In the light of the conclusions of the assessment, they may give consent for the operation only after having ascertained that the plan or project will not adversely affect the integrity of the site.
(3) Where the appropriate nature conservation body refuse consent they must give reasons for their decision.
(4) A person on whom a stop notice is served may—
(a)within two months of receiving notice of the refusal of consent, or
(b)if no notice of a decision is received by that person within three months of an application for consent being made,
by notice in writing to the appropriate nature conservation body require them to refer the matter as soon as possible to the appropriate authority.
(5) If, following a referral under paragraph (4), the appropriate authority are satisfied that, there being no alternative solutions, the plan or project must be carried out for imperative reasons of overriding public interest (which, subject to paragraph (6), may be of a social or economic nature), the appropriate authority may direct the appropriate nature conservation body to give consent to the operation.
(6) Where the site concerned hosts a priority natural habitat type or a priority species, the reasons referred to in paragraph (5) must be either—
(a)reasons relating to human health, public safety or beneficial consequences of primary importance to the environment; or
(b)any other reasons which the appropriate authority, having due regard to the opinion of the European Commission, consider to be imperative reasons of overriding public interest.
(7) Where the appropriate authority direct the appropriate nature conservation body to give consent under paragraph (5), the appropriate authority must secure that such compensatory measures are taken as are necessary to ensure that the overall coherence of Natura 2000 is protected.
(8) This regulation does not apply in relation to a site which is a European site by reason of regulation 8(1)(c) (site protected in accordance with Article 5(4) of the Habitats Directive).
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