Screening and scoping for AA – Considerations for An Bord Pleanála
Screening Determination for AA
In making a request for an AA screening determination the prospective applicant must provide an opinion as to whether the proposed development individually or in combination with another plan or project, is likely to have a significant effect on a European site(s) in view of the site(s) conservation objectives and the grounds for that opinion.
There is an onus on the prospective applicant to ensure that adequate and relevant information is submitted to enable screening to be carried out. This information must be scientific and relevant to the likely effects on the site(s) concerned in view of their conservation objectives.
A significant effect is any effect that may affect the conservation objectives for which the site was designated but excluding trivial, or inconsequential effects and includes direct, indirect, in combination, short and long term effects. For a likely significant effect to arise the effect has to be significant, relevant to the conservation objectives and the possibility of effects cannot reasonably be excluded under the precautionary principle.
Note that mitigation measures cannot be used to screen out a project from the requirement for submission of an NIS and an appropriate assessment at the SHD application stage. However, some mitigation factors such as adherence to best construction practice and use of drainage or settlement ponds may be considered to be an intrinsic part of the work to be carried out and may be taken into account in screening. This will be a matter of judgement for An Bord Pleanála dependent on the nature and extent of the development, site’s conservation objectives and degree of certainty of outcome.
An Bord Pleanála may consult relevant persons or bodies such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in regard to requests received for AA screening determinations.
Scoping opinion for information to be contained in an NIS
The appropriate assessment process is not a general ecological assessment, but is a focused and detailed impact assessment of the implications of the SHD project, alone or in combination with other plans and projects, on the integrity of a European site(s) in view of its conservation objectives. An Bord Pleanála’s opinion will be focused on the site’s conservation objectives. Should the prospective applicant wish to seek an opinion on ecological factors not relevant to the conservation objectives of the European site(s) concerned then this would need to be the subject of a separate EIA scoping request.
To assist An Bord Pleanála in providing its opinion, in addition to the matters set out above (requirements for prospective applicant in making a request), An Bord Pleanála would expect a request for a scoping opinion on information to be contained in an NIS to be accompanied by:
An Bord Pleanála may consult relevant persons or bodies such as the NPWS in regard to requests received for AA scoping opinions.