1.1.3 Protection and management of SACs

One of the principal mechanisms for delivering the objectives of the Habitats Directive is the designation of SACs and the implementation of appropriate conservation measures on these sites. These measures are described in Article 6 of the Directive, and guidance on their interpretation has been provided by the European Commission (2000, 2001).

SAC designation requires Member States to establish conservation measures which correspond to the ecological requirements of Annex I habitats and Annex II species present on the site (Article 6.1), and to take appropriate steps to avoid deterioration of the natural habitats and habitats of species, as well as significant disturbance of species, for which the site is designated (Article 6.2). This includes the appropriate assessment of the implications of any plans or projects that, alone or in combination, are likely to have a significant effect on the site in view of the site's conservation objectives (Article 6.3). If a negative assessment is concluded, a plan or project can only proceed if it is for imperative reasons of overriding public interest and no alternative solutions are possible, and the Member State must take compensatory measures to ensure the overall coherence of the Natura 2000 network (Article 6.4). The Habitats Regulations

In the UK the Directive has been transposed into legislation by The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) and The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 1995 (as amended). These are informally known as the 'Habitats Regulations'. The Regulations apply to the UK land area and its territorial sea (to 12 nautical miles from the coast), and are supported by government policy guidance2 . See Section 1.6.4 for information on the regulatory background in the offshore area. (from 12-200 nm)
Further details of the implementation of the Habitats Directive in the UK, including actions to support the protection and management of SACs, are given in the First report by the United Kingdom under Article 17 on implementation of the Directive from June 1994 to December 2000 (DEFRA 2001).

2 Principally: England: Planning Policy Statement PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation (ODPM 2005), and supporting guidance); Scotland: Nature conservation: implementation in Scotland of EC Directives on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Flora and Fauna and the Conservation of Wild Birds ('the Habitats and Birds Directives') (Scottish Executive 2000); Planning for Natural Heritage: Planning Advice Note 60 (PAN 60) (Scottish Executive 2000); National Planning Policy Guidelines NPPG 14: Natural Heritage (Scottish Office Development Department 1999); ); Wales: Planning policy Wales (National Assembly for Wales 2002); Technical Advice Note TAN5 Nature conservation and planning (Welsh Office 1996); Northern Ireland: Planning Policy Statement 2 (PPS2) – Planning and Nature Conservation (Department of the Environment Planning Service 1997). Further, non-statutory, guidance is available in a series of Habitats Regulations guidance notes (English Nature 1997a,b, 1999, 2001a,b, in press).