PPS 2: Planning and Nature Conservation
Nature Conservation and Development Control: International Sites: European Sites and Permitted Development Rights
47. Article 3 of the Planning (General Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 1993 (the GDO) grants a general planning permission ('permitted development') (subject to specified conditions and limitations) for the types of development set out in Schedule 1 to the GDO. These 'permitted development rights' apply mainly to non-contentious development proposals which, if they required individual consideration, would place an unnecessary burden on householders or other developers and on the Planning Service. Other permitted development rights relate to development controlled through other approval procedures, and to development by statutory and other undertakers and District Councils in the performance of their statutory duties.
48. Regulations 55-57 of the Habitats Regulations ensure that any permission granted under the GDO is not in breach of the terms of the Habitats Directive. They prevent any development, which is likely to have a significant effect on a European site in Northern Ireland, from benefiting from permitted development rights, unless the Department has determined that the development will not adversely affect the integrity of the site. Development which has begun with the benefit of a permitted development right, but has not been completed, shall not be continued until the developer has received a written confirmation from the Department that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site.
49. Developers should be aware that if they proceed with a development in or near a European site on the assumption that it benefits from a permitted development right, without first checking whether it is likely to have a significant effect on the site, they run the risk of undertaking the project without the benefit of planning permission and being liable to enforcement proceedings.
50. If developers are uncertain about the effect their proposal may have on a European site, they are advised to apply to the Department's Environment and Heritage Service for an assessment. Details of the procedures involved and of the information the developer should provide are given in Annex 5. There is no charge for this assessment. If the Department decides that the proposal is likely to adversely affect the integrity of the site, then the development cannot benefit from a permitted development right. If the developer still wishes to proceed, a planning application will be required.