To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what criteria are used to determinte whether a developer of a proposed hydraulic fracturing project is required to undertake a habitats regulation assessment.
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.