EU EIA revisions need more work, says IEMA

9th April 2013


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IEMA

The European Commission's proposals to overhaul rules on environmental impact assessment (EIA) will not deliver more proportionate EIAs or ensure better environmental outcomes, says IEMA

In its position statement on the proposed revisions to the EIA Directive, the Institute reveals it is unconvinced that all of the proposed changes will benefit EIA practice. In particular, IEMA questions the value of requiring all annex II projects to undergo screening and mandating a scoping process led by planning authorities.

While welcoming the commission’s overall aims to ensure high-quality EIAs across the bloc, the Institute argues that some of the revisions are unclear and that others may result in unnecessary burdens without equivalent environmental benefits.

The response, which IEMA drafted after consulting its members, concludes that the changes to screening requirements, for example, could result in hundreds of thousands more screenings in the UK each year for fewer than 100 additional full EIAs.

It urges the commission to ensure that changes to screening minimise additional burdens on those involved in EIA and deliver “at least commensurate improvements in environmental protection”.

The Institute also rejects planned changes to article 5 on scoping, arguing that having planning authorities determine the scope and level of detail in an EIA will prevent a more iterative approach to design.

IEMA says responsibility for scoping would better sit with the developer, informed by the outcomes of a mandatory pre-application public consultation process.

Other recommendations include: ensuring new monitoring requirements are linked to a clear purpose and that the data collected are reported to the appropriate bodies; and greater clarity on changes to procedural elements, such as the maximum timeframe for determining applications, to neutralise risks of legal challenge.

IEMA’s position statement on the revisions can be downloaded from iema.net.

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