CJEU case law update: Hilde Orleans & Others v Vlaams Gewest

Hilde Orleans & Others v Vlaams Gewest (joined cases C-387/15 and C-388/15), decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union on 21 July 2016.

We discuss how the CJEU’s decision in this case concerning appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive 1992, follows on from and clarifies existing case law in this area

Background Article 6(1) requires member states to protect SACs by establishing "necessary conservation measures".

Article 6(3) provides that, where a plan or project that is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of a SAC is likely to have a "significant effect" on that SAC, an "appropriate assessment" of the implications for the SAC must be undertaken. The competent national authority may only grant consent for the plan or project if it will not "adversely affect the integrity of the site".

Article 6(4) provides that, where an appropriate assessment results in a "negative assessment" of the implications for the site,a plan or project may nevertheless be carried out where there is no alternative solution, and if it is for "imperative reasons of overriding public interest" ("IROPI"), including those of a social or economic nature.

However, compensatory measures must be adopted. Briels Orleans Decision

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