Scoping Bird Surveys to Inform HRA
It is somewhat outside the scope of this website to look at ornithological assessment and survey requirements in relation to HRA. There are a number of high-quality guidance documents associated with HRAs, including The Habitat Regulations Assessment Handbook (Tylesdsley and Chapman, 2013) and as such detailed guidance is not provided here; however, a summary of the key elements that should be addressed are detailed. It is important to ensure that all necessary information is collated at the screening stage to enable the following points to be addressed:
- the identification and characterisation of European Sites,
- the review and screening of the proposed development plan to determine the potential impacts and likely effects on any European Sites,
- the consideration of any other plans and projects that may also be programmed, and which could lead to ‘in-combination’ effects; and
- the Scoping Assessment, which records the final opinion on the requirement for a HRA and the supporting evidence.
Where there is the potential for likely significant effects on SPAs and/or Ramsar site(s) there may be a requirement for surveys to establish the baseline in order to inform and quantify any potential for adverse impacts on the integrity of the European site. Qualifying species may relate to either individual species and/or bird assemblages and may specifically refer to breeding, non-breeding and/or passage seasons. If required, surveys to inform an HRA therefore need to be targeted and proportionate, and may encompass a number of different seasons.
The potential impacts on ‘functionally-linked’ land should also be considered and as such the extent of required surveys can extend substantially beyond the designated site boundary.