EIA Update | February 2014

10th February 2014


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  • Construction ,
  • Consultancy

Author

Manoj Kumar Mani Chaturvedi

IEMA's latest update on environmental impact assessment (EIA) practice including progress on the revision to the EU Directive

Revising the EIA Directive

A compromise text has been agreed and it looks likely that agreement on the revised EIA Directive will be in place by May. MEPs voted on proposed amendments in October 2013, allowing negotiations with member states to begin.

The Lithuanian presidency of the EU made agreement on the EIA Directive a key priority of its six-month term and held four informal “trialogues” in November and December, which were supported by several tripartite meetings on technical matters.

The European parliament and council reached informal agreement on 18 December, producing a compromise text, which will now be discussed and voted on by the council and the parliament in the next few months.

If the text passes these votes, it will amend the Directive, which will then need to be implemented in each member state within three years.

So what should we expect for UK EIA practice in 2017? The compromise text is a pared-down version of the original October 2012 proposal by the commission, but still includes many elements of the original plan. If agreed the revisions will require:

  • developers to produce screening reports for annex 2 applications above national thresholds;
  • the use of competent experts to undertake EIA; and
  • more binding, but non-mandatory, scoping, including coverage of climate change and disaster risk, where a development is likely to be significantly effected.

Revising schedule 2

In the 2012 autumn statement, the chancellor indicated that the communities and local government department would consult on increasing the thresholds in schedule 2 to reduce the application of EIA in England.

While nothing happened in 2013, these plans have not been abandoned; the government’s response to an article in the Daily Telegraph last month indicates that a consultation is imminent.

Changing the thresholds will be no easy task, however. Article 2 of the EIA Directive means the government will need to show how each threshold has taken account of the relevant criteria from annex 3. If the government wants to avoid legal challenges, its consultation will need to provide substantial explanation to justify the proposed changes.

EIA roundup

  • IEMA is assisting the Scottish government in delivering more efficient and effective environmental, community and economic appraisals across its planning system.
  • The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development has released its revised environmental and social policy for comment. The consultation ends on 5 March. A meeting in London on 25 February is one of a series being held to discuss the revised policy.
  • IEMA supported the first major conference held by the Hong Kong Institute of EIA in 10 years. The focus was on shaping the future of EIA, and IEMA policy lead on impact assessment Josh Fothergill gave a keynote speech.

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