EIA update: October 2015

30th September 2015

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  • Management ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Built environment ,
  • Planning



A round-up of the latest key developments in EIA.

Wind farms rejected by Decc

Decc has refused consent for the proposed Navitus Bay offshore wind park, citing its visual impact as one of the main reasons, even though it rejected some of the claims made by campaigners against the scheme.

The Navitus wind park, 14.3km off the Dorset coast at its nearest point, would have comprised up to 194 turbines and had a maximum generating capacity of 970MW. The developers Navitus Bay Limited (NBL), claimed the project would save 1.29 million tonnes of CO2 each year and supply 700,000 average UK households with electricity each year.

A report in June from the examining authority had recommended rejection of the scheme. It concluded: "The scale and location of the project would affect important special qualities of areas of outstanding natural beauty [AONB] over a widespread area of coastline and that this carried significant weight against the grant of consent."

In his letter to the developer setting out the reasons for refusing planning permission, Decc minister Lord Bourne said the secretary of state agreed with this conclusion. "It is undoubtedly the case that the wind turbines would be visible when looking out to sea from large stretches of the coast, in particular from Dorset and the Isle of Wight, where AONB and heritage coast designations are prevalent," it states. However, the letter refutes claims that the turbines would obscure sightlines between the Dorset coastline and the Isle of Wight.

The letter also referred to the Dorset coast's designation by Unesco as a world heritage site (WHS). The environmental statement accompanying the planning application acknowledges that the wind farm would be visible from points along a 30km section of coast. The examining authority report concluded that the farm would change the way the site would be "experienced or enjoyed" and would have adverse implications for its "outstanding universal value", which is the test for "exceptionality" for world heritage sites. The secretary of state agreed with this assessment, saying that, although the farm would not damage the protected feature of the WHS, it would adversely affect the use and enjoyment of the site.

NBL said it had yet decide on whether to appeal against the decision to reject its application, but would discuss the options with it shareholders.

Decc has also turned down plans for four onshore wind schemes in Powys, Mid-Wales, because of concerns over the farms' impact on local landscape, biodiversity, heritage and local traffic. The four schemes are at: Llanbadarn Fynydd - maximum installed capacity of 59.5MW; Llaithddu - capacity of 62.1MW; Llanbrynmair - generating station of up to 90 MW; and Carnedd Wen - generating station of 130-150MW. Decc did, however, approve the Llandinam repowering scheme,which involves decommissioning and replacing an existing wind farm. However, the Llandinam project is unlikely to go ahead after Decc also rejected planning permission for a 132kV overhead electric line connection between the proposed wind farm and Welshpool substation. All six projects were considered by Wales's longest-ever planning inquiry, which started on
4 June 2013 and closed on May 2014.

Simplifying statements

In a new QMark paper, Nathan Matta, associate director at Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, discusses the consultant EIA briefing packs and suite of Word document templates his organisation have developed to ensure consistency in the content and layout of chapters in the environmental statement (ES). The briefing pack is issued on or before the EIA start-up meeting and includes: an assessment of key issues relevant to the EIA, such as other relevant schemes; a description of the development as well as the site and its surroundings; and the scope of the ES, highlighting chapter titles and responsibilities. To reduce the need for editing and formatting before submission, each consultant is provided with an individual template for each chapter of the ES. These are already formatted with standard section headings. The templates ensure consistency over details such as font size, use of headings, and the approach to be taken to plans, figures, tables and appendices. Matta also says the EIA co-ordinator should keep the team updated with regular briefing notes to highlight ongoing issues.

EIA and heritage sites

How the EIA process helped find a solution to a heritage issue on a complex urban site is the topic of a QMark paper by Oliver Bell, principal planner at Nexus Planning. It relates to one of the largest regeneration projects in the London Borough of Haringey, at St Ann's Hospital. Heritage constraints, including the preservation of a Victorian wall, had a significant impact on the proposals and were a key consideration during the EIA process. The ES identified a moderate adverse impact on the wall. The local planning authority concluded that the other considerations, particularly improved access for residents, outweighed the identified harm, however.


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