Q. What is a Habitats Regulations Assessment and why might development require one?
Habitats Regulations Assessment is the assessment of the impacts of implementing a plan or policy on international protected sites for nature conservation.
These sites are Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds identified under the Birds Directive and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for habitats and species under the Habitats Directive.
Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention) are also considered under the assessment, as are candidate SACs and proposed SPAs.
The purpose of Habitats Regulations Assessment is to ensure that plans will not result in significant damage to protected wildlife sites.
The assessment considers the impacts of a land use plan against conservation objectives of the site and identifies whether it would adversely affect the integrity of the site.
Where significant negative effects are identified, alternative options should be examined to avoid any potential damaging effects.
Ashdown Forest has been designated as a Special Protection Area and most of Crawley Down village lies within the associated 7km protection zone.