The Habitats Regulations Assessment Handbook is the one definitive source of guidance for the assessment of plans and projects under the UK Habitats Regulations

Restored gravel workings SPA habitat in the Lee Valley SPA/Ramsar at Turnford & Cheshunt Pits


Following feedback from key stakeholders, the England & Wales version of The Habitats Regulations Assessment Handbook is now available. Click here to view the contents page. The Handbook contains over 180 uniquely generated ‘principles’ under the following 17 headings, derived from case law and Government guidance, which together will guide an assessor through the entire Habitats Regulations Assessment process:

  • The ‘Competent Authority’
  • What comprises a ‘plan’ or ‘project’
  • 'Directly connected with or necessary to site management’
  • Mitigation Measures
  • Conservation Objectives
  • Likely significant effects
  • The ‘in-combination’ assessment
  • An ‘appropriate’ assessment
  • Consultation on an appropriate assessment
  • The ‘integrity test’
  • Coordination and Consultation between Competent Authorities
  • Alternative solutions
  • Imperative reasons of overriding public interest
  • Compensatory measures
  • Application of the ‘precautionary’, ‘polluter pays’, ‘preventive action’ and ‘proportionality’ principles
  • Multi-stage consents, modifications and renewals
  • Multiple plans and projects and multiple consents


The Handbook also includes:

  • The legal framework
  • Interpretation of the law drawn from European and domestic case law
  • Procedural advice based on a clearly defined four stage process
  • Separate methodological guidance for plans and projects **including a stepwise approach to an ‘in combination’ assessment, with accompanying flowchart**
  • Examples, templates and illustrative outputs of assessment
  • The text of the Regulations as amended
  • The text of the Directive as amended’

The content of the Handbook has been checked, and will continue to be monitored by Graham Machin of Counsel. Graham is a planning barrister with extensive experience in the effects of the Birds and Habitats Directives on the development and use of land.


We are pleased to offer potential subscribers the opportunity to 'preview' the Handbook prior to taking out a subscription. If you are interested in a live tour of the Handbook content then please click here.


The guidance in the Handbook is compatible with all Government guidance, including that flowing from the implementation of the Defra ‘Habitats and Wild Birds Directives Implementation Review’.


We update the Handbook to take account of the regular amendments to the Regulations and other legislation, case law in Europe and Britain, policy and good practice, providing an ongoing service to subscribers.


The Handbook draws extensively on case work such as that in the Lower Derwent Valley, the Cairngorms, East coast ports and the Thames Basin Heaths.


Click here to read a user review.


First published in hard copy October 2013.

Recommended citation: this Handbook may be referred to (with month and year of edition inserted as appropriate) as:


Tyldesley, D., and Chapman, C., (2013) The Habitats Regulations Assessment Handbook, (month) (year) edition UK: DTA Publications Limited

The Handbook contains over 180 uniquely generated 'principles', derived from case law and Government guidance, which together will guide an assessor through the whole assessment process

" David Tyldesley & Associates have a long experience of involvement in the application of the Habitats Regulations Assessment process and this product usefully draws together the current state of collective understanding"

Janette Ward (Director Regulation, Natural England)



"Accessible, up to date and expertly written - this is a very useful source of guidance for competent authorities and others involved in assessing both projects and plans"

Adam Cole-King (Senior International Sites Adviser, Natural Resources Wales)



"This HRA Handbook brings a 20th century piece of legislation into the 21st century for everyone to understand"

Craig Rockliffe (Permitting and Conservation Team Leader, Environment Agency)


"This Handbook provides a useful guide to HRA application and case law in English territorial waters" 

Lisa Chilton (Head of Offshore Industries Advice, Joint Nature Conservation Committee)


"The MMO is committed to enabling sustainable growth in making decisions about developoments at sea. We use the HRA Handbook to gain an overview of case law and help ensure consistency in our decision making"

Dickon Howell (Head of Licensing, Marine Management Organisation)


"A timely and much needed publication from the recognised and respected HRA experts" 

Wyn Jones (Convenor of the Nature Conservation Working Group for the UK Environmental Law Association)


"We welcome this detailed guidance and informed discussion on what is a critically important and often complex area of European conservation legislation" 

John Box (CEnv FCIEEM) (President of the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management)


The Handbook content has been updated to take account of all recent judgments in the CJEU and the EU Exit amendment Regulations (4 January 2021). 


We have advised the CIEEM In Practice editor that the approach described in the recent article on ‘A novel approach to quantify and mitigate for biodiversity loss caused by Nitrogen deposition’ is inappropriate.  We believe that what is described as mitigation – offsite buffer area for habitat creation and improvement – is actually compensation for the harm to the habitats in the designated SAC.  We advise that this approach should not be adopted without taking legal advice and consulting Natural England HRA and air quality specialists (12th January 2021).