EPS licensing, test 3:
The action authorised must not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range (Regulation 44(3)(b))
Licences can only be granted where the authorised activity will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a Favourable Conservation Status (FCS) in their natural range. Marine users should provide the necessary information to enable an assessment to be undertaken. Please refer to Box 7 for more information on what Favourable Conservation Status means in practice.
If detrimental, Scottish Ministers may not issue licence.
If not detrimental, Scottish Ministers may issue a licence, with or without conditions.
The Commission Guidance on the strict protection of animal species provides more details on what should be considered when assessing the tests.
What does Favourable Conservation Status mean in practice for species?
The ultimate objective of the Habitats Directive is to ensure that the species covered reach what is called a ‘Favourable Conservation Status’ and that their long-term survival is deemed secure across their entire natural range within Europe. Article 1(i) of the Habitats Directive defines Favourable Conservation Status (FCS) of a species as follows:
“conservation status of a species means the sum of the influences acting on the species concerned that may affect the long-term distribution and abundance of its populations within its natural range.
The conservation status will be taken as ‘favourable’ when:
- – population dynamics data on the species concerned indicates that it is maintaining itself on a long-term basis as a viable component of its natural habitats; and
- – the natural range of the species is neither being reduced nor is likely to be reduced for the foreseeable future; and
- – there is, and will probably continue to be, a sufficiently large habitat to maintain its populations on a long-term basis”
Test 3 looks at the impact on bottlenose dolphins – we are not convinced FCS could be maintained – they may well be displaced from their current location due to noise – they may not. We don’t want to find out the hard way. We reiterate – the Scottish Government needs to step in now – Tests 1 and 2 cannot be met – a licence cannot be awarded.