Environmental impact assessment consultation finally published

15th December 2016

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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Built environment ,
  • Planning


Maeve Fryday

Consultations on amending environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations have been published by the environment (Defra) and communities departments (DCLG), several months later than expected.

The EIA Directive was amended in 2014 and the revised version places greater emphasis on challenges that have emerged since the original rules came into force around 25 years ago, such as resource efficiency, climate change, human health and disaster prevention. There are also new requirements on monitoring and enforcement.

Member states have until May 2017 to transpose the amendments. The government’s consultation was expected in the summer in order to meet this deadline, but it was delayed following the vote to leave the EU. Consultations on amending the directive in Scotland and Wales took place over the autumn. The UK remains obligated to implement directives until it has formally left the EU.

The DCLG’s consultation covers amendments to the directive as it applies to the town and country planning system and the nationally significant infrastructure regime. Defra, meanwhile, is consulting on the amendments that will affect forestry, agriculture, water, land drainage and marine works.

A key change in the amended directive is for ‘competent experts’ to prepare the environmental statement outlining the potential impact of a development, but left it to member states to define who is competent.

Josh Fothergill, policy and engagement lead at IEMA, welcomed the consultations, but is concerned about how the DCLG has defined competent expert. It has proposed that local authorities be responsible for deciding if the environmental statement has been drawn up by a competent expert. ‘This is an approach that carries significant risk of delay and costs for a developer should the planning officer disagree with an EIA professional’s credentials,’ Fothergill said.

The Defra consultation closes on 30 January, while the DCLG consultation ends on 1 February. IEMA will be running events to obtain member feedback on the proposals and details will be announced soon.

For further coverage of the consultations, see Josh Fothergill’s blog and the January issue of the environmentalist.


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