FERS specialises in carrying out "Appropriate Assessments" (AA) and producing Natura Impact Statements at competitive rates. FERS has carried out AAs for numerous bodies including the Office of Public Works (OPW), Meath Co. Council and Inland Waterways Ireland in addition to a large number of private companies and individuals.
The requirement for AA is set out in the EU Habitats Directive in Articles 6 (3) and 6 (4). The directive requires an AA to be carried out where a plan or project is likely to have a significant impact on a Natura 2000 site. Natura 2000 sites comprise Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), which form a pan-European network of protected sites.
The assessment requirements of Article 6 are generally dealt with in a stage by stage approach. The stages as outlined in “Appropriate Assessment of Plans and Projects in Ireland - Guidance for Planning Authorities” are:
Assessment of Alternative Solutions
Assessment Where Adverse Impacts Remain
At each stage, there is a determination as to whether a further stage in the Appropriate Assessment process is required. If, for example, the conclusions of the Screening stage indicate that there will be no significant impacts on the Natura 2000 site, there is no requirement to proceed further. Stages 1 and 2 deal with the main requirements for assessment under Article 6 (3). Stage 3 may be part of Article 6 (3) or a necessary precursor for Stage 4.