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The implementation of both the Habitats and Birds Directives is transposed into UK legislation by the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994, commonly known as the "Habitats Regulations", which build the requirements of the Birds and Habitats Directives onto existing regulatory mechanisms. The Habitats Regulations include various provisions for the designation, safeguard and management of sites. The key provisions which relate to European marine sites are outlined here, however, for a complete understanding of the provisions reference should be made to the "Habitats Regulations".

Competent and relevant authorities. The Habitats Regulations refer to two sorts of statutory organisations that have certain responsibilities within European marine sites. They define competent authorities as 'any minister, government department, public or statutory undertaker, public body of any description, or person holding a public office' and relevant authorities as 'certain types of competent authority with powers or functions which have, or could have, an impact on the marine area within or adjacent to a EMS'.

The Habitats Regulations Regulation 3 (3) and (4) state:
"In relation to marine areas, any competent authority having functions relevant to marine conservation shall exercise those functions so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the habitats directive."
And that
"…every competent authority, in the exercise of any of their functions, shall have regard to the requirements of the Habitats Directive so far as they may be affected by the exercise of those functions."

Further reading
Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora ("the habitats directive"), OJ No L 206, 22.7.92, p.7
Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds ("the birds directive")·
Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 (Statutory Instrument 1994/2716), HMSO.

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