EIA update/April 2015
A round-up of the latest developments in EIA.
Report is first step to Cardiff lagoon
A tidal lagoon between Cardiff and Newport has moved a step closer to being constructed after the company behind the project submitted a preliminary report on its potential impact on the environment.
Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) is aiming to build six lagoons, which it claims will meet 8% of the UK’s total electricity needs for more than 100 years (pp.38–41). Plans for Tidal Lagoon Cardiff include up to 90 turbines set in a 22km breakwater, enclosing an area of around 70km2.
The firm says its submission to the Planning Inspectorate of an environmental impact assessment scoping marks a first significant step towards the delivery of full-scale tidal lagoon infrastructure in the UK. “There is still a long way to go and many environmental surveys to undertake but we will work in partnership with all nature conservation bodies to understand, avoid, minimise and mitigate any environmental impacts,” said TLP chief executive Mark Shorrock.
Revisions to guidance
The Planning Inspectorate has published a new version of its advice note (seven) on EIA: Preliminary environmental information, screening and scoping (lexisurl.com/iema78595). The inspectorate says the note explains when a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) should be considered as EIA development under the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2009. It also provides details of the procedural requirements that apply to NSIPs that are deemed EIA developments, including: the role of preliminary environmental information; pre-application consultation requirements on applicants; notification and consultation requirements on the secretary of state; and the procedures for screening and scoping developments. The inspectorate says the note will assist everyone involved in the Planning Act 2008 regime.
Delay to cruise terminal
The Royal Borough of Greenwich has asked for more information on the potential environmental impacts from a planned cruise ship terminal on the River Thames. The terminal, at Enderby wharf, is due to open in 2017, but it may be delayed after the council ordered the EIA to consider several issues not included in the scoping report. In a letter to planning consultancy bptw partnership, the council lists these as site layout and design, noise, air quality, lighting, transport and access.
Legislative news: Amended EIA regulations
An amendment confirming higher screening thresholds for environmental impact assessments (EIA) came into force on 6 April.
Under the changes, developers will no longer have to go through the screening process if a site is smaller than 5ha or 150 homes. Screening involves local planning authorities deciding whether a project needs to undergo an EIA. Thresholds also rise for other types of development. Industrial estate projects will no longer need an EIA unless the area of development is larger than 5ha, while shopping centres, car parks, sports stadiums, leisure centres and multiplex cinemas need to be more than 1ha before an EIA is required.
The government believes that developments below a certain size are unlikely to result in “significant” environmental impacts.
Chris Prydderch at Amec Foster Wheeler argues in a new QMark paper that the amended EIA directive (2014/ 52/EU) provides a clear opportunity to demonstrate the merits of the EIA coordinator role and how it differs from that of a project manager. Prydderch says 2014/52/EU, which came into force on 15 May 2014 and must be transposed into domestic legislation by spring 2017, includes a number of changes for developers and their consultants to consider. These include more stringent screening requirements; the introduction of new topics, such as human health, climate change and resource efficiency; and for developers to ensure that the EIA report is prepared by “competent experts”. A specialist EIA coordinator is ideally suited to ensure that these new requirements are met, Prydderch argues.
IEMA’s guidelines for environmental noise impact assessment were published in October 2014, replacing guidance from the Institute of Acoustics and IEMA dating from 2002. In a new QMark paper, WYG’s Peter Kneen looks at how consultants have been using the new guidelines. He reports that, because WYG has been following similar practices to those outlined in the guidance for some time, its consultants have not dramatically altered the way they undertake noise impact assessments. Nonetheless, WYG has incorporated the new guidelines into several technical and EIA reports and experienced some positive effects. “The update has given us more back-up when clients, local planning authorities, or objectors question the methodology employed on a project,” he says. On 30 April, IEMA is running a webinar on the noise guidelines. For further details go to events.iema.net/view/MTAv.
In June 2021, the UK’s governing Conservative Party lost a by-election in Chesham and Amersham, a seat it had held for 47 years. The principal reasons reported as the cause of this defeat were proposed planning reforms and the promotion of housebuilding on greenfield sites across the south of England.
As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the EIA Quality Mark, IEMA can announce that, during the past 12 months, the scheme has undergone a thorough review of practice, including stakeholder consultation with registrants and assessors, in order to improve it.
The delivery of effective outcomes for the environment, communities and development is a team effort, and more so when it comes to consenting projects that undergo Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).