Third European Court Habitats ruling
In November 2018, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) released its’ verdict on the environmental rules affecting the plans to extend a proposed ring road around the Town of Kilkenny in south-east Ireland, which objectors have been trying to block. In particular the ring road would cross the rivers of Barrow and Nore, which both form an EU special area of conservation.
Within the latest ruling the ECJ has had the effect of broadening appropriate assessment scope, as the process must now consider the implications for those habitats and species which are outside as well as inside the protected site. If those habitats and species which are outside the site affects those within it.
The impact of this ruling is not yet known, for some it doesn’t change the law but does provide helpful guidance on how to correctly approach the assessment. While for others it sets a legal precedent causing developers to broaden their vision beyond the boundaries of EU protected habitats.
How to interpret this ruling will require time as practitioners get to grips with yet another High Court ruling. The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs and Natural England are being looked to provide advice on how to interpret these ruling for both Local Planning authorities and applicant’s and even an update to the current guidance.