Ecological Planning & Research

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habitats regulations assessment

We have been advising on the implementation and implications of the Habitats Directive and Regulations for many years, and we have built up a specialist in-house expertise in this area.


As a practice we routinely advise on the European Habitats Directive and Regulations, and how these relate to:


-    Designated sites (Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) & Ramsar Sites)

-   Bird species listed on Annex 1 of the Birds Directive

-    Annex 1 Habitats


Habitats Regulations Assessments

We have specific expertise in preparing, or providing information for, Habitats Regulations Assessments (‘’HRAs’’) (including Appropriate Assessments (‘’AAs’’)) under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations, for both developers and local authorities.


The scope of HRA work that we have undertaken has included addressing a large range of potential effects on different types of site, including:


-    recreational pressure, noise and light affecting ground nesting heathland or coastal wading birds,

-    air pollution from emissions or traffic affecting vegetation and habitats,

-    discharges to watercourses or impacts on groundwater affecting river and coastal SACs and SPAs.


We have provided advice and support to clients through every stage of the process, up to and including successfully representing clients at Public Inquiries. Our evidence and approach in relation to addressing the protection afforded to the Thames Basin Heaths SPA has also been upheld in the High Court.



Residential Development and SPAs

Residential Development in the vicinity of heathland Special Protection Areas (SPAs) has attracted particular scrutiny over recent years, particularly in the Thames Basin region where housing demand and associated recreational pressures on ground nesting birds on the regions designated heaths are in conflict.  Similar issues have also arisen in respect of the Dorset and Wealden Heaths, the New Forest and the Solent designations.


EPR leads the field in providing workable solutions to this issue with extensive experience across the Thames Basin region, ensuring our clients have the best possible chance of achieving their residential development aspirations.  We have particular experience in the design and implementation of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) as a component of new residential development which provides additional green recreational areas to successfully draw new residents and existing recreational use away from the SPA.


We are closely involved in numerous discussions with the various Local Authorities and Natural England both in relation to specific cases and the evolution of the general approach to preventing impacts on the SPA.

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