In approving licences, the department must ensure that all projects are compatible with environmental sustainability and in compliance with EU and Irish law. Each application must undergo detailed scrutiny regarding its environmental suitability, including site inspections, statutory referrals, public consultation, and the application of procedures around Appropriate Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment. Recent European Court of Justice and Irish law rulings relating to the protection of Natura sites, i.e. SACs and SPAs, have meant changes to this process, specifically in relation to the Appropriate Assessment procedure. More transparent and robust procedures are being introduced which will demonstrate the process by which the department arrives at a final decision regarding whether or not a project will adversely affect the integrity of a Natura site, either individually or in combination with other plans and projects.