Appropriate Assessment for Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

The brief

MKA Ecology undertook an Appropriate Assessment to establish the likely significant effects of redevelopment on Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

Suntrap Education Centre is an outdoor education facility for children, based at High Beach on the border with Epping Forest in Essex. In 2019, the site went through a £4.5 million redevelopment to provide improved learning spaces and opportunities for children to get outdoors, connect with nature, and learn about the climate & ecological crisis. MKA Ecology was involved in the initial predevelopment phases by conducting surveys for reptiles, amphibians, and roosting bats. Being so close to Epping Forest (a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), the project also needed an Appropriate Assessment to understand the potential effects of the redevelopment on this important SAC.

What did we do?

MKA undertook an Appropriate Assessment to establish likely significant effects of the development on Epping Forest SAC, which is designated for its unique Beech forest habitats (it represents Atlantic acidophilous beech forests in the north-eastern part of the habitat’s UK range) and for its populations of Stag beetle Lucanus cervus. The following points are considered in the Appropriate Assessment:

  • All aspects of the proposal, alone and in combination with other proposals;
  • The qualifying interest features and conservation objectives of the SPA or SAC;
  • Avoidance and mitigation measures and other factors that reduce the likelihood of significant effects;
  • Best available scientific data on potential impact pathways and significance; and
  • Any residual likely significant effects of the proposal on the SPA or SAC for which any further assessment will be required

The Appropriate Assessment process found that no likely significant effects were anticipated on the qualifying features of the Epping Forest SAC and therefore there would be no impact on the conservation objectives. This was largely due to the non-residential nature of the development.

What was the outcome for the client?

The project was able to be completed and now provides a wonderful range of outdoor learning opportunities for young people, right on the doorstep of the beautiful Epping Forest.

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