The Handbook Contents

PART A Introduction to the Handbook, legislation and designations

A.1    About this Handbook
A.2    Legislative background
A.3    ‘European sites’

A.4    The relationship between Article 6(3) and Article 6(1) / 6(2)


PART B Procedural overview of a Habitats Regulations Assessment

B.1    Habitats Regulations Assessment: a decision influencing process
B.2    Introduction to the four-stage assessment process adopted in this Handbook
B.3    How the Habitats Regulations Assessment process relates to other assessment processes for                 plans and projects


PART C The general principles

C.1    Introducing the principles
C.2    The ‘Competent Authority’
C.3    What comprises a ‘plan’ or ‘project’
C.4    ‘Directly connected with or necessary to site management’
C.5    Mitigation Measures
C.6    Conservation Objectives
C.7    Likely significant effects
C.8    The ‘in-combination’ assessment
C.9    An ‘appropriate’ assessment
C.10  Consultation on the appropriate assessment
C.11  The ‘integrity test’
C.12  Coordination and consultation between competent authorities
C.13  Alternative solutions
C.14  Imperative reasons of overriding public interest
C.15  Compensatory measures
C.16  Application of the ‘precautionary’, ‘polluter pays’, ‘preventive action’ and ‘proportionality’ principles
C.17  Multi-stage consents, modifications and renewals

C.18  Multiple plans and projects and multiple consents

C.19  Transboundary effects


PART D Information required for assessment

D.1    Before you start
D.2    European site ‘qualifying features’
D.3    ‘Conservation objectives’
D.4    Additional sources of information
D.5    ‘Conservation status’ and ‘condition’ of qualifying features
D.6    Zones of influence and significance thresholds or limits
D.7    Evidence requirements


PART E Practical guidance for the assessment of projects under the Regulations

E.1    Introduction and overview
E.2    Roles and responsibilities
E.3    Pre-submission assessment by the project proposer
E.4    Stage 1: Introduction to the ‘screening’ of projects
E.5    Stage 1: Projects that may be exempted, excluded or eliminated
E.6    Stage 1: Considering how a project could affect a European site
E.7    Stage 1: Screening assessment for likely significant effects ‘alone’
E.8    Stage 1: Screening assessment for likely significant effects ‘in combination’ with other plans and

E.9    Stage 1: Transition between Stage 1 Screening and Stage 2 Appropriate Assessment
E.10  Stage 1: Preliminary consultations and recording the screening conclusion
E.11  Stage 2: The ‘appropriate assessment’
E.12  Stage 2: The ‘integrity test’
E.13  Stage 2: Consultations and recording the assessment
E.14  Stage 2: Modifications, subsequent approvals and renewals
E.15  Stage 3: Alternative solutions
E.16  Stage 4: Imperative reasons of overriding public interest
E.17  Stage 4: Compensatory measures
E.18  Monitoring
E.19  Town and country planning – specific issues


PART F Practical guidance for the assessment of plans under the Regulations

F.1    Introduction and overview
F.2    Stage 1: Introduction to the ‘screening’ of plans
F.3    Stage 1: Plans that may be exempted, excluded or eliminated
F.4    Stage 1: How a plan can affect a European site and gathering information about the sites
F.5    Stage 1: Checking the plan’s strategy and analysis of options and alternatives
F.6    Stage 1: Pre-screening checksand changes to the draft plan
F.7    Stage 1: The formal screening decision for the plan
F.8    Stage 1: Preliminary consultations and recording the screening stage
F.9    Stage 2: The appropriate assessment
F.10  Stage 2: The ‘integrity test’
F.11  Stage 2: Recording the assessment and consultations
F.12  Stage 2: Late amendments to the plan
F.13  Stage 3: Alternative solutions
F.14  Stage 4: Imperative reasons of overriding public interest
F.15  Stage 4: Compensatory measures
F.16  Monitoring


PART G European Marine Sites

G.1    Introduction and competent authorities
G.2    Definition of terms associated with European Marine Sites
G.3    European Marine Site management schemes
G.4    The making of byelaws


1    Amendments to the conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017
2    Statute in force: The Habitats Directive as amended
3    Statute in force: The Birds Directive as amended
4    Summary of European Commission opinions provided in relation to Article 6(4)
5    Glossary of terms
6    Case Law references

Readers are treated to good sensible advice informed by ingrained practical experience (independent subscriber review)

" David Tyldesley & Associates have a long experience of involvement in the application of the Habitats Regulations Assessment process and this product usefully draws together the current state of collective understanding"

Janette Ward (Director Regulation, Natural England)



"Accessible, up to date and expertly written - this is a very useful source of guidance for competent authorities and others involved in assessing both projects and plans"

Adam Cole-King (Senior International Sites Adviser, Natural Resources Wales)



"This HRA Handbook brings a 20th century piece of legislation into the 21st century for everyone to understand"

Craig Rockliffe (Permitting and Conservation Team Leader, Environment Agency)


"This Handbook provides a useful guide to HRA application and case law in English territorial waters" 

Lisa Chilton (Head of Offshore Industries Advice, Joint Nature Conservation Committee)


"The MMO is committed to enabling sustainable growth in making decisions about developoments at sea. We use the HRA Handbook to gain an overview of case law and help ensure consistency in our decision making"

Dickon Howell (Head of Licensing, Marine Management Organisation)


"A timely and much needed publication from the recognised and respected HRA experts" 

Wyn Jones (Convenor of the Nature Conservation Working Group for the UK Environmental Law Association)


"We welcome this detailed guidance and informed discussion on what is a critically important and often complex area of European conservation legislation" 

John Box (CEnv FCIEEM) (President of the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management)


The Handbook content has been updated to take account of all recent judgments in the CJEU and the EU Exit amendment Regulations (4 January 2021). 


We have advised the CIEEM In Practice editor that the approach described in the recent article on ‘A novel approach to quantify and mitigate for biodiversity loss caused by Nitrogen deposition’ is inappropriate.  We believe that what is described as mitigation – offsite buffer area for habitat creation and improvement – is actually compensation for the harm to the habitats in the designated SAC.  We advise that this approach should not be adopted without taking legal advice and consulting Natural England HRA and air quality specialists (12th January 2021).