EIA Update

17th March 2011

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We discuss the latest developments in Environmental Impact Assessment.

In late February, the Scottish government laid the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 before parliament. The Regulations come into force on 1 June 2011, which should allow time for the Scottish Planning Circular 8/2007 (Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations) to be replaced.

The new Regulations consolidate, update, and replace Part II of the 1999 EIA (Scotland) Regulations to account for recent court rulings. Key changes include:

  • New provisions requiring the need for EIAs to be considered before approving certain applications required by conditions to a planning permission.
  • New provisions determining the need to screen applications for changes or extensions to existing developments.
  • The need to consult the Health and Safety Executive on environmental statements.

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s new planning-related EIA Regulations (England) are expected to come into force in May, but have yet to be laid before parliament. IEMA understands that, once they launch, Circular 02/99 (EIA) and its guidance will be cancelled, but there is hope that a short EIA guide will take their place.

The Infrastructure Planning Commission, which is due to cease operation in April 2012, launched another EIA advice note in February. While previous notes have covered the EIA basics, this latest offering is of greater practical value. It covers “the use of the Rochdale envelope” in EIA, a concept that allows EIA to be applied to proposals that lack clarity on the exact scale or detailed location of the development.(www.lexisurl.com/iema6414)

The European Commission has launched two EIA reports on its website:

  • The first is a report undertaken for the commission on the scale of EIA activity across Europe; a note of caution that the figures on the number of EIAs in the UK (2006–08) are roughly half the number identified in the government’s official statistics.
  • The second has greater practical relevance, setting out the findings of a number of recent European Court of Justice rulings related to EIAs.

DECC has launched its latest consultation on offshore Strategic Environmental Assessment. It relates to plans for future offshore wind, wave and tidal renewable installations; seaward oil and gas rounds; and hydrocarbon/carbon dioxide gas storage. Consultation closes on 12 May 2011.

Look out for further EIA-related activity in the environmentalist in the next few issues, including: the launch of the EIA Quality Mark and a special report entitled The State of EIA Practice in the UK.

Finally it is your last chance to book for IEMA’s EIA screening and scoping CPD workshop on 30 March in London.


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