The Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) require that sites for certain species and habitat types are protected. These form part of the network of sites known as the Natura 2000 network. Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are designated to conserve habitats and species which are of European importance, which are listed in Annex I and Annex II of the Habitats Directive. Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are classified to protect rare and vulnerable birds and regularly occurring migratory birds of European importance as listed in Annex 1 of the Birds Directive.
The Habitats Directive requires that appropriate steps are taken to avoid deterioration of natural habitats and habitats of species and significant disturbance to species on those sites and Article 6(3) requires Member States to consider the likely effects of proposed plans and projects before agreeing to them. All plans and projects likely to have a significant effect on the UK Natura 2000 sites must be subject to an appropriate assessment of the implications for that site in view of the conservation objectives set for it.
This guidance is designed to assist developers and holders of offshore renewable energy consents and licences to understand how these will be affected by the provisions applying to new marine Natura 2000 sites. It is expected that this guidance will be most relevant for developers and operators who already hold a Development Consent Order (DCO) under the Planning Act 2008 (in England and Wales only) or a Section 36 consent under the Electricity Act 1989 (across the UK) and associated deemed marine licences or marine licences, for renewable energy infrastructure within the marine environment, or are in the process of applying for one. It is also intended to inform others with an interest in such consents and licences.
The guidance sets out the views of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Marine Scotland, the Marine Management Organisation and Natural Resources Wales Marine Licencing Team as the relevant competent authorities for these purposes.