Larne Area Plan 2010
Policies & Proposals: Natural Environment
Larne Borough has a rich variety of landscapes ranging from the coastal environments and Larne Lough to the high open moorland of the Antrim Plateau cut in places by deep river valleys. Nature conservation has assumed greater importance in the latter part of the 20th century coinciding with an increased realisation of the vulnerability of the natural environment to inappropriate development and the consequences of the resulting environmental damage.
A series of Government Policy initiatives have been introduced and legislation enacted to implement the obligations of European Community directives and international agreements on nature conservation; namely the EC Wild Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and the EC Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and Wild Fauna and Flora (92/43/EEC), also the Ramsar Convention on Conservation of Internationally Important Wetlands. These oblige each member state to take special measures to protect and manage habitats and species.
The overall purpose of the Birds Directive is to provide for the protection, management and control of all wild bird species occurring naturally in the European territory of the member states. Annex 1 of the Directive contains a list of particularly sensitive species for which special measures are to be taken to conserve their habitats. In particular, member states are required to classify the most suitable areas as Special Protection Areas (SPA). In that respect Swan Island in Larne Lough has been declared a Special Protection Area.
The main aim of the Habitats Directive is to promote the maintenance of biodiversity through the protection and management of natural habitats and species of community interest. This will be achieved through the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) - Garron Plateau is the subject of such a declaration. The Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 implements E.C. Directive 93/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (the ‘Habitats Directive’) in Northern Ireland and includes provision for dealing with planning applications affecting European Sites. Under the terms of the Directives any development likely to adversely affect the integrity of a European Site (SPA or SAC) can only be carried out for imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature.
In addition to those sites which are of national or international importance Larne has a range of natural and semi-natural habitats which the Department will seek to protect from the adverse impact of development. Of particular note in this respect are the blanket bog areas, the river corridors of the Glenarm, Glencloy and Glenoe rivers, many areas of broad leaved woodland and a range of other sites of local nature conservation interest. These sites are indicated on Map 2 with details of the sites listed in Appendix 1.
Larne Borough has a variety of wildlife habitats supporting a diversity of plant, bird and animal life. In recognition of the unique quality of the landscape of a large part of the Antrim Plateau and Coast the Department has designated the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, (hereinafter referred to as 'the Antrim Coast and Glens A.O.N.B.). The purpose of such a designation is to protect and conserve the scenic qualities of the area and promote their enjoyment by the public through recognition of their natural assets.
The Department will seek to prevent development which would adversely affect areas of nature conservation importance and to take account of nature conservation interests in considering proposals for development. Countryside Assessments have been carried out as part of the development plan process. These provide a foundation for environmental appraisal and highlight opportunities and constraints on development. They also identify the capacity of landscape areas to absorb further development and show how development could be integrated into its setting.
This section contains the following sub categories: