Online consent service launched for Areas of Special Scientific Interest
Created on: Tuesday, 19 December 2017. Posted in: News
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has launched a new online service for operations and activities requiring consent in Areas of Special Scientific Interest.
NIEA, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, says the new service will make consent applications more convenient, efficient and straightforward.
Head of the NIEA David Small explained: “Our Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) are a unique and vital part of the natural landscape. This is why they enjoy special protections.
“A key part of NIEA’s role is stewardship of the landscape. Every one of us has a stake in our environment and NIEA want to continue working in collaboration with landowners, farmers and other organisations. This new service is launched in the spirit of partnership and is designed to make it easier and quicker to apply and gain permission.”
NIEA designate ASSIs due to their special flora, fauna, or geological, physiographical features. When an area has been designated an ASSI, the citation has a ‘schedule’ which lists activities that would require consent from NIEA. These could include changing of grazing patterns, felling trees or digging of ditches - any activity likely to damage the flora, fauna or other features within the ASSI.
Mr Small said: “This online service is a positive step towards simplifying the process for the applicant, saving time and effort. It will also make the process more accessible whilst improving compliance and protecting our special natural heritage.”
The online form guides users through the process, with a drop-down list of ASSIs to select from and advice on what supplementary information needs to be submitted along with the application.
The service is linked into NIEA’s Natural Environment map viewer, whereby applicants can easily generate maps, ‘redline’ the area where activity will be carried out and attach it to the application form.
This service will be available from 18 December 2017.
For access to the ASSI online service visit the DAERA website, or go direct to: https://appsd.daera-ni.gov.uk/ASSI(external link opens in a new window / tab)
Notes to editors:
- Under The Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002, land owners and occupiers, as well as land managers (including Government bodies), who wish to carry out certain operations, known as notifiable operations, in areas that have been declared as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) require permission from NIEA.
- Under The Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002, the Department declares areas of land as ASSIs due to its particular importance in terms of nature conservation, special flora, fauna, or geographical, physiographical or other feature site selection features.
- Northern Ireland has 392 ASSIs, which covers a land mass of ~110,000 hectares which equates to 7.7% of Northern Ireland, and has a confirmed number of land owners of 9,150.
- NIEA’s Natural Environment map viewer allows you view the location of natural environment areas of interest including; NIEA protected areas and NIEA surveyed priority habitats and species. For access to NIEA’s map viewer see link:https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/services/natural-environment-map-viewer(external link opens in a new window / tab)
- ASSI sites have been designated and are protected due to their environmental importance. Some of these sites are further declared at a higher level of EU protection, such as Special Protection Areas (Birds Directive) and Special Area of Conservation (Habitats Directive). ASSI declarations afford these areas high levels of protection and control potentially damaging operations occurring to the flora or fauna or other features for which the area was designated.
- When the Department makes an ASSI declaration it gives notice to every owner and occupier of the land, district council, public body and interested bodies. This notice includes a copy of the ASSI Citation and map showing the boundary of the ASSI.
- The Citation sets out the scientific interest of the ASSI, the Department’s views about how the land should be managed and a schedule of operations and activities (known as ‘Notifiable Operations’) which, if carried out, may damage the scientific interest of the land.
- If a land owner, occupier or public body wishes to carry out a notifiable operation within an ASSI, permission is required from the Department by way of a consent.
- For further information on Northern Ireland’s ASSI see link: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/protected-areas Select the specific ASSI, and view ‘Guidance and Literature’ for the site’s Citation.
For access to NIEA’s ASSI online consent service see link: https://appsd.daera-ni.gov.uk/ASSI(external link opens in a new window / tab)
- Contact details:
Conservation Designations and Protection (CDP)Natural Heritage,Northern Ireland Environment AgencyKlondyke Buiding,Gasworks Business Park,Lower Ormeau Road,BelfastBT7 2JA
E-mail Contact: CDP@daera-ni.gov.uk
Telephone: 02890 569515
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