Southend Central Area Action Plan (SCAAP) Preferred Approach 2015

Representation ID: 2032

Received: 26/01/2016

Respondent: Natural England

Representation Summary:

Wording of Policy not considered accurate and it is suggested that Policy CS2.1, is amended to read as follows:

"1. Ensure that all development proposals within the Central Seafront Area are accompanied by a Habitats Regulations Assessment and associated documentation to ensure there will be no adverse effect on the European and International foreshore designations (SPA and Ramsar) either alone or in combination with other plans or projects;"

The Habitats Directive requires competent authorities to decide whether or not a plan or project can proceed having undertaken the following "appropriate assessment requirements" to:
1. Determine whether a plan or project may have a significant effect on a European site, either alone or in combination;
2. If required (ie when there is a likely significant effect), undertake an appropriate assessment of the plan or project;
3. Decide whether there may be an adverse effect on the integrity of the European site in light of the appropriate assessment.
This whole process is generally referred to as Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).
The responsibility for carrying out a HRA rests squarely upon the decision-making competent authority; except insofar as it may be appropriate for the competent authority to adopt the reasoning or conclusions of another competent authority as to whether a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a European site, or will adversely affect the integrity of a European site. The Regulations transposing the Habitats Directive also provide that a competent authority is not required to assess any implications of a plan or project that would be more appropriately assessed by another competent authority. Planning applications are often accompanied by a document which is described as being a HRA; however such a document produced by or on behalf of an applicant does not have any legal weight and is therefore sometimes referred to as a 'shadow HRA'.
As the competent authority, it remains Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's responsibility to produce the definitive HRA; either by adopting an applicant's 'shadow HRA', or by carrying out its own HRA. Where a competent authority chooses to carry out its own HRA, it will normally require the applicant to provide the necessary background information to support the assessment process.