HOW DO LOCAL IPAs DIFFER FROM DESIGNATED SITES SUCH AS SACs or NHAs?
Designated sites such as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) are most often chosen to protect those species or habitats that are listed on the EU Habitats Directive or the Wildlife Order and are extremely threatened at European or national levels. Defining local IPAs is not intended to conflict with this network, or to suggest extra sites for designation, but rather to provide an extra level of information for use primarily at the local authority level. They are not designated areas and simply provide information that local authorities can readily access if they wish to protect the plant richness within their jurisdiction.
There will be some overlap between local IPAs and designated sites and this is essential if the IPA sites are to be of value as a standalone information layer for use at the local level. The primary difference between local IPAs and a national designated site network is that a designated network is not intended to indicate local plant hotspots or areas that contain locally rare, scare or declining species. It will also not assist local authorities in protecting important sites within the range of natural habitats that occur within their jurisdiction, should they wish to do so. Providing easy access on the location of local IPAs and the data on which their selection was based will, at the least, make it clear to local authorities within which areas full environmental impact assessments are necessary.