Natura 2000 appropriate assessment: Shortcomings and improvements in Finnish practice

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2009
Authors:T. Soderman
Journal:Environmental Impact Assessment Review
Date Published:February
Keywords:aa, conservation, ec, environemt, europe, natura2000

The EU Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC requires impact assessments called Appropriate Assessments (AA) for plans and projects probably having adverse effects on the sites of European ecological importance, Natura 2000 sites. Seventy-three Appropriate Assessment reports and seventy official opinions given on them by regional environmental authorities from 1997 to 2005 were reviewed. The findings of the study demonstrate typical shortcomings of ecological impact assessment: a weak information basis for assessment outcomes and lack of proper cumulative impact assessment with respect to ecological structures and processes. The quality of reporting has improved over time with respect to direct impacts on individual habitat types and species and detailed mitigation measures. Regional environment centres considered one fifth of the AA reports to be inadequate because of lacking data. In most cases the regional environment centres demanded a change of plan or project, added mitigation measures, choice of only one alternative for further planning or a new completed assessment with additional information in order to be able to evaluate the significance of the effects. The study underlines the need for iterative planning practices in which the preparation of a plan or project with alternative options goes hand in hand with the impact assessment equipped with sufficient data.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith