A Stage I Screening for Appropriate Assessment is sometimes asked for when Planning Permission is sought for a site located within or close to areas protected under European Law (Habitats Directive1992) known as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

Why does this happen?

Well approximately 13% of Ireland is covered in these Natura 2000 sites (SACs and SPAs).

SPAs are designated for 193 protected bird species distributed across Europe with some well-known examples such as Hen Harrier, King Fisher and Corncrake. Ireland’s SPA Network encompasses over 570,000 hectares of marine and terrestrial habitats.

The areas chosen as SAC in Ireland cover an area of approximately 13,500 sq. km. Approx. 53% is land, the remainder being marine or large lakes.  Across the EU, over 12,600 sites have been identified and proposed, covering 420,000 sq. km of land and sea, an area the size of Germany. Examples of protected Irish habitats include raised bogs, blanket bogs, turloughs, sand dunes, machair (flat sandy plains on the north and west coasts), heaths, lakes, rivers, woodlands, estuaries and sea inlets. The 25 Irish species which must be afforded protection include Salmon, Otter, Freshwater Pearl Mussel, Bottlenose Dolphin and Killarney Fern.

When a site for planning is located within or close to one of these protected areas then the Council may ask for a Stage I Screening for Appropriate Assessment to be carried out by a qualified Ecologist. At Ash Ecology and Environmental we are experienced in carrying out such surveys to a high professional standard with a fast turnaround rate. Contact us now for a competitive quote for an Appropriate Assessment (AA) to be carried out.

appropriate assessment natura 2000 sites
Terrestrial Natura 2000 sites in Ireland. To the left is the SAC network in Ireland while on the right is the SPA complex, together amounting to 13% of the land cover of Ireland.

Some of the projects Ash Ecology has completed stage 1 screening reports for recently include a one-off house in Galway, farm in Waterford, farm in Tipperary