Online Consent Service Launched For Areas of Special Scientific Interest

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has launched a new online service for operations and activities requiring consent in Areas of Special Scientific Interest.

NIEA, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, says the new service will make consent applications more convenient, efficient and straightforward.

Head of the NIEA David Small explained: “Our Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) are a unique and vital part of the natural landscape. This is why they enjoy special protections.

“A key part of NIEA’s role is stewardship of the landscape. Every one of us has a stake in our environment and NIEA want to continue working in collaboration with landowners, farmers and other organisations. This new service is launched in the spirit of partnership and is designed to make it easier and quicker to apply and gain permission.”

NIEA designate ASSIs due to their special flora, fauna, or geological, physiographical features. When an area has been designated an ASSI, the citation has a ‘schedule’ which lists activities that would require consent from NIEA. These could include changing of grazing patterns, felling trees or digging of ditches – any activity likely to damage the flora, fauna or other features within the ASSI.

Mr Small said: “This online service is a positive step towards simplifying the process for the applicant, saving time and effort. It will also make the process more accessible whilst improving compliance and protecting our special natural heritage.”

The online form guides users through the process, with a drop-down list of ASSIs to select from and advice on what supplementary information needs to be submitted along with the application.

The service is linked into NIEA’s Natural Environment map viewer, whereby applicants can easily generate maps, ‘redline’ the area where activity will be carried out and attach it to the application form.

This service will be available from 18 December 2017.

For access to the ASSI online service visit the DAERA website, or go direct to: