EU: ECJ rules that Natura 2000 sites are not carved in stone

By its 3 April 2014 judgment in a preliminary ruling procedure, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has held that in certain cases the member states are required to propose to the commission the declassification of a site on the list of ‘sites of community importance’ (SCIs). This is especially true for those cases in which the owner of land forming part of a site on that list makes a request to declassify that site and proves that the relevant site cannot contribute to the achievement of the objectives set forth in the Habitats Directive.

Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (Habitats Directive) provides for setting up a European network of areas of conservation under the title ‘Natura 2000’. Said directive required the member states to nominate sites suitable for entry in the Natura 2000 network. Based on such nominations, the commission selected the sites forming the Natura 2000 network as SCIs. The member states were then required to establish adequate national rules to give protection to these SCIs as ‘special areas of conservation’ (SACs).

Already in the course of the nomination of areas of conservation by the member states, landowners offered strong resistance against the inclusion of their lands in the areas of conservation system. They did so for an obvious reason: the inclusion of land in the areas of conservation system results in the applicability of article 6 of the Habitats Directive. Pursuant to article 6(2) of the Habitats Directive, any deterioration of natural habitats and any disturbance of the species for which the areas have been designated shall be avoided on such land…

Click on the link below to read the rest of the Schoenherr briefing.

Sign in or Register to continue reading this article

Sign in


It's quick, easy and free!

It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.

Register now

Why register to The Lawyer


Industry insight

In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.


Market intelligence

Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.


Email newsletters

Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.

More relevant to you

To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.

Briefings from Schoenherr

View more briefings from Schoenherr

Analysis from The Lawyer

  • Austria firms

    Austria – Out of the darkness

    Regulators are ramping up the pressure in the aftermath of recession, leaving firms to compete for compliance and restructuring work


Schottenring 19
1010, Vienna

Turnover (€m): 66.60
Jurisdiction: Austria