(2) what progress has been made in conducting an appropriate assessment of plans to increase the size of ferries between Yarmouth and Lymington together with associated shore works; and if he will make a statement.
It is for the relevant consenting authorities, in this case the Marine and Fisheries Agency and the planning authorities, to decide whether or not an environmental impact assessment is needed. In this case I understand that in view of the nature, scale and location of the proposed works the relevant authorities agreed that there are not likely to be any significant environmental effects and therefore the proposals do not trigger the requirement to undertake such an assessment.
The criteria for undertaking an appropriate assessment under the Habitats Regulations provide that the consenting authorities must ascertain, before granting approval to the works, that the proposals will not have an adverse effect on the integrity of a European protected site. In this case the authorities agreed that an assessment should be undertaken which would also take account of the possible effects of operating the new ferries on the Solent and Southampton Water protected site. The developers engaged consultants who produced a report on 28 March to underpin that assessment. This is currently being considered by Natural England and the Marine and Fisheries Agency. In determining their respective consents the regulating authorities must make an assessment of the potential effects of the proposals on the site and on any mitigation necessary to protect the site from damage.