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Annex 1: Relevant Legislation

Table 1:  International

Assessment of the potential ecological impact of proposed coastal developments must consider a complex, continually evolving framework of policy aims, legal requirements and planning mechanisms.

The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive is currently being transposed by the countries of the European Community and imposes legal obligations on member states.  Policy seeks to implement commitments to sustainable development and application of the ecosystem approach agreed internationally.  With regard to nature conservation, the principal agreements are:

  • Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Wildfowl Habitat 1971
  • Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972 and 1996 (London Convention)
  • IMO International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.  This is the most important convention regulating and preventing marine pollution by ships, 1973;
  • Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (1979) as amended;
  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS)
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity 1992
  • Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS), 1994 and 2008.  This Agreement is part of the Bonn Convention.
  • Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic 1992 (OSPAR Convention)

European nature conservation law has developed in response to these international agreements albeit within the context of particular European concerns.  The key Directives for nature conservation law are:

  • Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds;
  • Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora; and
  • Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy (EU Water Framework Directive).
  • Directive 2004/35/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage.
  • Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive)

Table 2:  United Kingdom

In 2002, Defra set out the Government’s strategy for ‘safeguarding our seas’. This presents a vision for the marine environment and identifies the strategic goals that must be achieved in order to deliver it.  A similar approach was adopted by the Scottish Executive (2005) in their strategy for the long-term sustainability of Scotland’s coasts and seas.  The primary legislation relating to nature conservation was, originally, the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949; this has been developed and strengthened by:

  • Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981(as amended)
  • Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order, 1985
  • Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985, Part II Deposits in the Sea (as amended), (FEPA Part II)
  • Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).
  • UK Biodiversity Action Plan 1994
  • Environment Act 1995
  • Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) 1999.
  • Offshore Petroleum Production and Pipelines (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1999
  • Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000
  • Offshore Petroleum Activities (Conservation of Habitats) Regulations 2000
  • Environment (Northern Ireland) Order, 2002 (the NI ASSI legislation)
  • Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003
  • Water Environment and Water Service (Scotland) Act 2003
  • Nature Conservation Act (Scotland) 2004
  • Environmental Liability Directive (2004)
  • Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 NERC
  • Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 2007 - ref Section 39(2) for Scotland.
  • The Offshore petroleum Production and Pipe-lines (Assessment of Environmental Effects) (Amendment) Regulations 2007
  • Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill (SP Bill 15) (2008)
  • Planning Act (2008)
  • Our seas –a shared resource:  High level marine objectives (2009)
  • Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (England and Wales)
  • Marine (Scotland) Act 2010

Essentially, these laws provide protection for habitats, through site designation, and individual species of plant and animal to ensure good ecological status.  Several other laws, such as the Coast Protection Act 1949, the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 and the Water Resources Act 1991 are also of relevance to nature conservation although this is not their primary purpose.  It should be noted that the Marine Acts supersede the two existing Acts which set the framework for the current marine licensing system – the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 and the Coast Protection Act 1949.  In addition nature conservation issues are considered in:

  • Technical Advice Note 5: Nature Conservation and Planning (Wales) (1996).
  • Planning Advice Note 60: Planning for Natural Heritage (Scotland) (2000).
  • Planning Policy Statement 2 (Northern Ireland): Planning and Nature Conservation (1997).
  • NPPG 14: Natural Heritage (National Planning Policy Guidance) Scotland (1999).
  • Planning Policy Statement 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation (England) (2005).

Shoreline Management Plans and Coastal Habitat Management Plans (when available) highlight nature conservation issues of specific concern to particular stretches of coastline and the UK Biodiversity Action Plan presents an overall approach to conserving biodiversity.

Implementation and enforcement of measures to safeguard nature conservation in the UK is the responsibility of Countryside Council for Wales, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage although specific obligations are also placed on a number of other ‘relevant authorities’ such as the Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency.  The web sites of these organisations contain information on relevant issues as well as links to other informative websites.

Table 3:  Republic of Ireland

  • European Communities (Environmental Assessment of certain plans and programmes) Regulations 2004.S.I. No. 435 of 2004
  • Planning and Development (Strategic Environmental Assessment) Regulations 2004.  S.I. No. 436/2004
  • European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) Regulations 2004.  S.I. No. 435 of 2004
  • Planning and Development Act of 2000
  • European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds) Regulations, 1985.  S.I. No. 291/1985
  • European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds) (Amendment) Regulations, 1998.  S.I. No 154/1998
  • European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1997.  S.I. No. 94/1997
  • European Communities (Natural Habitats) (Amendment) Regulations 2005.  S.I. No. 378/2005 
  • European Communities (Water Policy) Regulations 2003 S.I. No. 722 of 2003
  • Flora (Protection) Order 1999  S.I. No. 94 of 1999
  • Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006
  • Foreshore Act, 1933
  • Foreshore (Amendment) Act, 1992
  • Fisheries and Foreshore (Amendment) Act, 1998
  • Fisheries (Amendment) Act 2003
  • Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries Act 2007
  • Wildlife Act 1976
  • Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000
  • National Development Plan 2007-2013 Transforming Ireland:  A Better Quality of Life for All
  • National Development Plan (2000 - 2006)
  • National Heritage Plan (2002)
  • National Biodiversity Plan (2002)
  • Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government:  Statement of Strategy (2008-2010)