The European Commission published new guidelines on inland navigation and nature protection to assist the sector in applying EU environmental legislation.
The guidelines “Inland waterway transport and Natura 2000 – sustainable inland waterway development and management in the context of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives” emphasise the development of inland waterway transport infrastructure as well as the conservation of rivers from the perspective of protecting Europe’s rare species and habitats under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives and in the wider context of the Water Framework Directive.
The Commission guidelines provide guidance on how best to ensure that activities related to the development and management of inland waterways are compatible with EU environmental policy in general and nature legislation in particular. The document focuses on the construction, maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure projects related to commercial inland waterway transport and has been written in consultation with members of the European Commission Working Group on Rivers which has provided valuable feedback on the various drafts of the guidance document.
Particular attention is given to explaining how to develop integrated projects which aim to take account of the river’s ecological processes early on in the design process and which search for win-win solutions for both inland waterway transport and biodiversity wherever possible. This guidance document also outlines the procedures to follow when carrying out an appropriate assessment under Article 6 of the Habitats Directive.
The document is the fourth guidance document on application of EU nature legislation in the context of strategic EU sectors. Previously published guidelines concerned wind energy, non-energy mineral extraction industry and developments in ports and estuaries.