Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA): Help and advice

Tools and guidance can help you to understand both the legal basis of Habitats Regulations Appraisal and its practical application. 

Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) differs from Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Some of the terms used in all three procedures seem similar in meaning, but their steps, tests and application are very different, so it is crucial to understand the differences between them.

Useful tools

You can use SiteLink to find details of the qualifying interests and conservation objectives for any of Scotland’s:

Conservation Advice Packages (CAPs) or Conservation and Management Advice Documents (CMAs) include the conservation objectives for each site as well as other relevant information to benefit the sites.

More information can be found in the ‘About conservation advice documents for European sites in Scotland’.


Mitigation; guidance relating to the recent People over Wind CJEU case judgment

Read our European site Casework Guidance (currently being updated) and supplementary note on restore objectives.

View our advice for planners and developers on protected areas.

Read a brief summary of the HRA process and hints for practitioners in our Natura sites and Habitats Regulations leaflet.

Some key concepts are clearly explained in the Managing Natura 2000 Sites: The provisions of Article 6 and the ‘Habitats’ Directive 92/43/EEC.

Scottish Government policy on planning in relation to Natura (now European) sites and Ramsar sites is clarified by paragraphs 207 to 211 of the Scottish Planning Policy 2014.

Read specific HRA guidance for plan-making bodies in Habitats Regulations Appraisal of Plans: Guidance for Plan-making Bodies in Scotland.

The Scottish Government guidance on HRA and the planning system includes Planning Series Circular 6/2013: Development Planning.

Other useful guidance:

Relevant legal cases

These cases may help you to correctly interpret HRA legislation:

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