Research Article

Impact assessment of ionising radiation on wildlife: Meeting the requirements of the EU birds and habitats directives

ECORAD 2004: The Scientific Basis for Environment Protection Against Radioactivity, Aix-en-Provence, France.

D. Copplestonea1, M. D. Wooda2, P. C. Merrilla1, R. Allotta1, S. R. Jonesa3, J. Vives i Batllea3, N. A. Beresforda4 and I. Zingera5

a1 Environment Agency, RFH, Knutsford Road, Warrington WA4 1HG, UK e-mail:

a2 University of Liverpool, School of Biological Sciences, Liverpool L69 3GS, UK

a3 Westlakes Research Institute, Moor Row, Cumbria CA24 3LN, UK

a4 Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4AP, UK

a5 Swedish Radiation Protection Authority, 171 16 Stockholm, Sweden


In the UK, research funded by the Environment Agency/English Nature has provided a series of spreadsheet-based assessment tools for calculating doses received by biota in coastal, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. The approach uses the reference organism concept where the organism of interest (feature species) is equated to a particular reference organism (based on its physical geometry and ecology). This paper describes the stages followed to collate additional species-, and site-, specific data and to undertake assessments to determine whether Natura 2000 sites are adequately protected from authorised releases of ionising radiation. The feature species used for the assessment were species listed under the EC Birds and Habitats Directives. The paper will describe the overall assessment process followed by the UK Environment Agency, demonstrating the staged assessment process adopted; how each feature species is mathematically aligned with the most appropriate reference organism geometry; and provide an example of the assessment conducted for the Natura 2000 sites located in the Humber Estuary, UK.

(Online publication June 17 2005)