In NHAs, SACs and SPAs, certain activities or operations that might be damaging can only be carried out with the permission of the Minister. These are called Notifiable Actions and vary depending on the type of habitat that is present on the site. Landowners are sent copies of the Notifiable Actions that are relevant to their lands.
The activities listed in the Notifiable Actions are not prohibited but require the landowner/occupier to consult (in practice with the local Conservation Ranger) in advance. In the case of NHAs, 3 months written prior notice is required to be given to the Minister before undertaking any notifiable activities. You can download the appropriate application for consent form for a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA) and/or a Natural Heritage Area (NHA).
A list of Notifiable Actions is issued according to habitats present (Click here to view those lists). As an example, here are the activities for which consultation is needed on an offshore island SPA:
- Commercial or private recreational activities liable to cause significant disturbance to birds
- Construction or alteration of fences, tracks, paths, roads, embankments, car parks or access routes
- Deliberate scaring of birds
- Dumping, burning, disposal or storing of any materials including wastes
- Introduction (or re-introduction) into the wild of plants or animals of species not currently found in the area
- Planting of trees
- Reclamation, infilling, ploughing or otherwise disturbing the substrate
- Removal of soil, mud, sand, gravel, rock or minerals
- Removing or altering walls or ruined buildings
- Broad-scale application of any pesticide or herbicide
Notifiable Actions do not apply:
Notifiable Action consent is not required for activities specified in an NPWS farm plan scheme plan, as any activities covered in the plan are approved by NPWS. For REPS and AEOS plans, notifiable action consent is not required provided the activity (that would otherwise by covered by a Notifiable Action) is discussed with and approved by NPWS prior to plan approval. Activities not included in an approved REPS, AEOS or NPWS plan require separate Notifiable Action consent.
Participation in a REPS, NPWS or AEOS plan does not exempt the farmer from cross compliance sanctions or prosecution. It is the responsibility of all farmers to ensure that they are in compliance with SMR 1 and 5 (the Birds and Habitats Directives), whether in an agri-environmental plan or not.