Appropriate Assessment (AA)


Appropriate Assessments (AA) are an essential process in the assessment of projects that could potentially have significant effects on the environment. The purpose of AA is to identify, evaluate, and manage the potential impacts of a project on protected areas, habitats, and species. This process is vital in ensuring that development does not cause significant harm to the environment and its inhabitants.

Appropriate Assessments are the result of the EU Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive, transposed to Maltese legislation as the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations (S.L. 549.44) and the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations (S.L.549.42). These legislations require that an AA is required where a proposed development may give rise to significant effects upon a Natura 2000 site or its protected habitat/species.

The AA process aims at assessing the significance of the impacts of a proposed plan (either individually or in combination with other proposals) on Natura 2000 sites. These Natura 2000 sites are designated by the European Union, and include Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). SACs protect important habitats and species, while SPAs are designated protect one or more rare, threatened or vulnerable bird species that make use of the area.

The aim of the AA is to assess the proposed plan and its impacts on the integrity of the site in view of its conservation objectives thereby protecting the biodiversity of a country in line with the EU’s Habitats Directive & Birds Directive. The AA process involves a thorough assessment of the project and its potential impact on the environment. This assessment considers factors such as the project's location, size, and type, as well as the potential effects on flora, fauna, and habitats. The assessment is carried out by a competent authority, which may be a government agency or an independent expert.

The importance of Appropriate Assessments cannot be overstated. Without this process, development projects could cause irreversible harm to the environment and its inhabitants. AA ensures that projects are evaluated for their environmental impact and that measures are put in place to manage and mitigate any adverse effects. This process helps to protect the environment and ensure that development is sustainable.

Appropriate Assessment
Painted comber (Serranus scriba)
Appropriate Assessment
Bearded fireworm (Hermodice carunculata)


AIS Environment will guide you through each stage required during an Appropriate Assessment (AA):

Assessment of the planning permit application: Following the submission of a planning permit application to the Planning Authority(PA), Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) are consulted as statutory consultees. They provide feedback to the client on whether a PDS needs to be submitted.

Compilation of the Project Description Statement (PDS): AIS Environment will prepare the PDS document which gives a description of the project and a brief description of the envisaged environmental impacts on noise, air quality, ecology, etc. – this report is prepared by AIS, who in turn will  liaise directly with the customer, architects and ERA.

Terms of Reference (ToRs): ERA publishes ToRs that outline the details and technical studies required as part of the AA – AIS will consult with the client and ERA on these ToRs.

Experts: AIS will engage qualified internal & external experts and prepares the methodology to be followed as part of the AA, in consultation with ERA.

Preparation of the AA report: AIS will carry out the assessment on behalf of the client.

Consultations: AIS will consult with ERA to confirm/amend the findings of the AA report. Such consultations may necessitate workshops, meetings, and presentations which are all led by AIS.

Appropriate Assessment

Mediterranean Storm-petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis)