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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 222531, tabled on 28 January 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what criteria are used to determine whether a developer is required to undertake a habitats regulation assessment for a proposed hydraulic fracturing project within a (a) special conservation area, (b) special protection area, (c) site of special scientific interest, (d) area of outstanding natural beauty and (e) Ramsar site.

Answered on

4 February 2015

Habitats regulations assessments (HRA) are used to determine what impact a proposed plan or project might have on the following types of protected site:

· Special Areas of Conservation,

· Special Protected Areas,

· Ramsar sites, or

· Sites in the process of being given one of the above designations.

HRA do not relate to any other type of site designation or protection, unless the site happens to also carry one of the above designations.

HRA requirements are generally implemented through other licensing and permitting processes. As such, any public body taking a decision on whether to permit a proposed plan or project has to decide whether an HRA is needed as part of the application. Operators wishing to undertake hydraulic fracturing for shale gas will require planning permission from a Mineral Planning Authority. The Mineral Planning Authority will have to decide whether an HRA is needed as part of any given proposal. Key factors for the Mineral Planning Authority to consider will include the proximity of proposed fracking operations to the types of protected site listed above, and the potential for fracking to impact upon the species or habitats for which the particular site or sites were designated.