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NC1  The Protection of Sites of International Importance for Nature Conservation  Policy

Development proposals which may affect a European Site, a proposed European site or a Ramsar site will be subject to the most rigorous examination.

Development proposals, either individually or when combined with others, which seem likely to significantly affect a European Site, a proposed European site or a Ramsar site, and which are not directly connected with or necessary to site management for nature conservation, will be assessed in terms of the nature conservation objectives for the site. Development proposals identified as having an adverse effect on the integrity of the site will not be permitted, except when:

(i) there are no alternative solutions; and

(ii) there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature, which are sufficient to override the ecological importance of the site.

Where a European site hosts a priority natural habitat type and/ or a priority species, development proposals will not be permitted unless the Local Planning Authority is satisfied that it is necessary for reasons of human health or public safety or for beneficial consequences of primary importance to the environment.

In the case of European sites, development proposals satisfying these requirements will be subject to planning conditions and/ or planning obligations in order to secure any compensatory measures necessary to protect the coherence of the network of European sites.

Reasoned justification :

13.7 As signatories to international conventions and the Directives of the European Union, the UK Government is obliged to make special provision for nature conservation in relation to certain types of species and habitat. These obligations normally fall on national government. However, it is important that any local land-use implications are identified within the UDP to enable applicants to be made aware of any increased responsibilities that may fall upon proposals located within or adjacent to a specially designated area. Policy NC1, therefore, sets out the approach that the local planning authority will normally adopt towards applications within or adjacent to areas where international designations apply.

13.8 Where the Local Planning Authority consider that a proposal might affect a designated or candidate international site, the applicant will be required to provide additional information on the environmental impact of the proposal in order to enable a full assessment of the proposal on the integrity of the site to be undertaken. In particular, it will be important for an applicant to demonstrate that the proposal does not conflict with the nature conservation objectives for the site. This information will be in addition to any statutory Environmental Assessment which may be required.

13.9 Designations made to meet international obligations are normally made with reference to internationally agreed scientific criteria. Many internationally designated sites are already recognised as sites of national importance for nature conservation. However, the conservation objectives associated with such designations often introduce requirements which go beyond those normally attached to national sites of conservation importance. These objectives vary from convention to convention. Policy NC1 indicates that the Local Planning Authority will not permit proposals which, when assessed in terms of the conservation objectives for the site concerned, are identified as having a significant affect on the integrity of the site, except in the circumstances highlighted, which reflects national guidance relating to European sites.