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The Habitats Directive in Ireland

About the course

  • Date of event
    • Thursday, 24 May
  • Time
    • 9.30 - 4.50 pm
  • Venue
    • Davis Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin

    There have been numerous challenges to planning and environmental decisions in recent years based on arguments that the Habitats Directive has not been property transposed or applied. This course will cover the fast changing EU and Irish law relating to Habitats, what the law is (and should be), the most common mistakes made when dealing with Habitats issues, practical problems which occur, the methodology for decision-making on Habitats and other important issues. It should be of interest to lawyers, planners, engineers, construction companies, environmental professionals and anyone involved in development in Ireland.

    This one-day intensive course is organised by the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin under the directorship of Professor Emerita Yvonne Scannell.


9.00-10.00 Registration

The interpretation of the Habitats Directive by the European Court

Why we need to know EU law. Where to find it. Important decisions relating to the concepts of "significant", “likely”, “best scientific knowledge/evidence”, “adversely affecting the integrity”, “reasons of overriding public interest”. The Irish decisions in the CJEU. Differences between AA and EIA. Liability for damaging European sites.

The 2017 decision of the Supreme Court in Brandley v Deane (15 November 2017) affirmed the long-standing principle that the cause of action in negligence, in latent defects cases, accrues when the damage caused by the defect becomes manifest, rather than the date on which the plaintiff ought reasonably to have discovered, or actually discovered, the damage. This paper considers the implications of the case for determining the limitation period in such cases, contrasts the position with actions in contract, and suggests that the principal impact of the decision would be in cases where there is evidence before a court that such damage was manifest before it was discovered.

Professor Yvonne Scannell
11.00-11.30 Tea/Coffee Break

Habitats in the Planning System

Screening for Habitats Directive; Mitigation Measures; Duty to give reasons for screening; Stage 2 Appropriate Assessment; Difference between mitigation measures and compensatory measures; Duty to record Habitats Directive determination; Wind farms and the Habitats Directive; Designation of sites post-grant of planning permission; the recent rulings of the European Court in People Over Wind and Grace.

Garrett Simons, Senior Counsel
12.30-1.30 Lunch


Habitats at the Coalface

An in-depth analysis of the four most important Irish Habitats cases. What went wrong? The methodology of decision making on habitats. Complying with the legal requirements for screening and analysis of the Natura Impact Statement in practice. The legal requirements for an appropriate assessment. The need for proper reasons for decisions. Recording decisions.

Danielle Conaghan

Habitats requirements under the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011

The plans and projects covered by the 2011 Regulations. The transposition of Habitats Directive outside of planning law. When is AA required for developments not covered by the planning system? Multiple requirements for appropriate assessments. The position of public bodies. The People Over Wind appropriate assessment screening case.

Sinead Martyn
3.30-4.00 Tea/Coffee Break Sinead Martyn

Case Study

This will be a scenario to emphasise what we have covered in the Course and encourage you to ask questions of the panel in an open discussion.

Sinead Martyn


Danielle Conaghan is a solicitor and partner with Arthur Cox, Solicitors, where she specialises in planning and environmental law. She has been involved in a huge number of environmental and planning cases and advises clients on how to avoid contravening environmental law when planning projects and making plans subject to Strategic Infrastructure Assessment requirements.

Sinéad Martyn is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and holds a Masters in Environmental Policy from Cambridge. She is an associate with McCann FitzGerald where she specialises in environmental and planning law. She has experience in both contentious and no-contentious environmental and planning matters, including the review of specialist documents such as the Natura Impact Statement (“NIS”), derogation licences under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 and the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (previously known as an EIS). Sinéad is a Council member of the Irish Environmental Law Association and is a guest lecturer on the Law Society’s Diploma in Environmental and Planning Law as well as UCD’s Professional Certificate in Environmental Management.

Dr Yvonne Scannell is Professor Emerita of Environmental Law at Trinity College Dublin and a consultant in Environmental Law with Arthur Cox, Solicitors. She has written seven books on Environmental Law including one on Habitats.

Garrett Simons SC is a leading senior counsel with a specialism in Planning and Environmental Law and the author of two books on Planning and Development Law. He has acted for the State and private developers in many of the leading environmental law cases.


CPD Points: 5

Fees: €300 per person

Fees are inclusive of tea/coffee break and conference papers.

CPD Programmes

School of Law, Trinity College Dublin

House 39, New Square,

Dublin 2.