The purpose of this guide is to help developers and regulators meet the requirements of the Habitats Regulations in the Moray Firth when first considering proposals. It does this by drawing together and presenting information on qualifying interests, explaining basic principles of ecology and the most important impact pathways. It considers the aspects involved in carrying out projects in the Moray Firth that could affect the qualifying interests of associated Natura sites, such as the Inner Moray Firth Special Protection Area (SPA) or the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation (SAC). We hope it will help in making decisions about projects, including how to avoid or mitigate impacts on Natura sites before proposals become so defined that problem solving is more expensive or difficult. It is not however, an exhaustive “how to” guide to carrying out Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) or associated Appropriate Assessments (AA). It simply introduces broad principles to consider.
Links to formal guidance are provided throughout this document and these should be used when carrying out HRA.