13The consent decision
(1) The Secretary of State shall consider, in the light of the environmental statement, any additional environmental information and any representations received in accordance with paragraph (3) of regulation 9, paragraph (2) or (3) of regulation 10 and, in respect of projects to which regulation 11 applies, in the light of consultations with the relevant EEA State and any opinions received pursuant to paragraph (3)(b) of that regulation, whether or not to grant consent for the project.
(2) The Secretary of State shall not reach her decision under paragraph (1) above until of the latest of—
(a) the expiry of the period specified in the notice published under regulation 9(3)(b);
(b) the expiry of twenty-eight days after the later of the date on which any additional environmental information was sent to any consultation bodies and the date that notice of it was published in accordance with regulation 10(3); and
(c) the expiry of any period agreed between the Secretary of State and the relevant EEA State pursuant to regulation 11(4)(b).
(3) The Secretary of State shall not grant consent for a project which would involve doing anything which would be unlawful under regulations 39, 41 or 43 of the Habitats Regulations (which shall not include anything for which a licence has been granted under regulation 44 of those Regulations).
(4) Paragraphs (5) to (9) below shall apply to a decision by the Secretary of State whether or not to grant consent for a project which is likely to have a significant effect upon a European site (either alone or in combination with other projects) (referred to in those paragraphs as “the project”).
(5) Subject to paragraphs (7) and (8) below, the Secretary of State shall grant consent for the project only if she has considered its implications for the European site and is satisfied that the project will not adversely affect the integrity of that site.
(6) The consideration to be undertaken under paragraph (5) above shall involve an appropriate assessment of the implications of the project for the European site in view of that site's conservation objectives.
(7) If the Secretary of State is satisfied that, there being no alternative solution, the project must be carried out for imperative reasons of overriding public interest (which, subject to paragraph (8) below, may be of a social or economic nature), the Secretary of State may grant consent for the project notwithstanding a negative assessment of the implications for a European site.
(8) Where the European site concerned hosts a priority natural habitat type or a priority species, the reasons referred to in paragraph (7) must be either—
(a) reasons relating to human health, public safety or beneficial consequences of primary importance to the environment, or
(b) other reasons which in the opinion of the European Commission are in the case of the site concerned imperative reasons of overriding public interest.
(9) Where in accordance with paragraph (7) consent is granted for a project notwithstanding a negative assessment of the implications for a European site, the Secretary of State shall secure that any necessary compensatory measures are taken to ensure that the overall coherence of Natura 2000 (as defined in the Habitats Regulations) is protected.
(10) Any consent granted in accordance with paragraph (1) above shall be subject to the conditions required by paragraph (11) below and to such additional conditions as the Secretary of State may think fit.
(11) Every consent shall be granted subject to conditions to the effect that—
(a) the consent shall lapse if the project has not commenced (by the carrying out of a material act) within one year of the date on which it was granted;
(b) if the project has not been completed (which, in this regulation, shall mean that works permitted by the consent have been carried out and completed and all changes in the use or level of use of the relevant land permitted by the consent have been implemented) within three years of the date on which the consent was granted, the consent shall expire and the Secretary of State may require operations or uses implemented pursuant to the consent to cease until she has granted further consent in accordance with paragraph (d);
(c) the consent authorises the project only as described in the consent application, subject to any amendments approved by the Secretary of State pursuant to a request by the applicant, and any material change in the operations or uses so authorised shall require further consent in accordance with paragraph (d);
(d) applications for further consent under conditions in paragraphs (b) or (c) above shall be subject to such of the requirements of these Regulations as the Secretary of State shall think fit.
(12) When the Secretary of State has decided whether to grant consent she shall—
(a) notify the applicant, those consultation bodies to whom copies of the consent application were sent in accordance with regulation 9(3)(a), any EEA State consulted pursuant to paragraph (4) of regulation 11 and any authority or person who forwarded their opinion to the Secretary of State pursuant to paragraph (3)(b) of that regulation of her decision together with the full reasons and considerations on which the decision is based;
(b) inform the public of the decision by publishing a notice in a newspaper circulating in the locality in which the relevant land is situated or by such other means as she may think reasonable in the circumstances, and
(c) make available for public inspection a statement containing:
(i) the content of the decision;
(ii) the full reasons and considerations on which the decision is based; and
(iii) a description, where relevant, of the principal measures required to be taken to avoid, reduce or offset the major adverse effects of the project.
(13) Where the Secretary of State has decided to grant consent for a project—
(a) which consists of the carrying out of operations likely to damage any of the flora, fauna or geological or physiographical features by reason of which a site of special scientific interest (as defined by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) is of special interest;
(b) which English Nature have advised against permitting or have advised should be permitted only subject to certain conditions; and
(c) in respect of which the Secretary of State's decision does not follow the advice in sub-paragraph (b) above,
she shall give notice of her decision to English Nature, including a statement of how (if at all) she has taken account of English Nature's advice, and shall impose a condition on the consent to prevent the project from being commenced before the end of the period of twenty-one days beginning with the date of that notice.
Specified date: 1 February 2002: see reg 1.