MEPs vote for mandatory EIA for fracking

10th October 2013


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All shale oil and gas extraction projects will have to complete an environmental impact assessment (EIA), under proposed amendments to the planned new EIA Directive

The European parliament has agreed a set of amendments to the European Commission’s proposals revising the EIA Directive (2011/92/EU), including forcing shale oil and gas operators to complete an EIA for every site.

Under existing legislation only projects that extract 500,000m3 or more of natural gas are subject to the EIA regime. However, MEPs have voted in favour of mandating EIA in all non-conventional fossil fuel extraction projects, regardless of their size.

“We are revising this key legislation to align it with Europe's new priorities, such as soils, resource use and protecting biodiversity [and] hydraulic fracturing raises concerns,” said rapporteur Andrea Zanoni MEP.

Other amendments to the commission’s initial text include measures to ensure EIA practitioners “have the necessary qualifications, experience and technical skill”. The amended text states that those undertaking EIA must be able to work in a “scientifically objective fashion, independently of the developer or the public authorities themselves”.

MEPs voted by 332 votes to 311 in favour of the amendments proposed by the parliament’s environment committee and the text will now be passed to the EU council.

Janez Potoĉnik, EU environment commissioner, welcomed the vote: “This paves the way for much-needed changes that will modernise the current Directive, improving its effectiveness and streamlining related administrative processes.

“Fundamentally, it's a vote of confidence in what has always been one of the foundations of EU environment policy, a key piece of legislation that ensures the concerns of citizens are taken into account when important new developments are needed.

“We will now be carefully examining the proposed amendments. I look forward to working closely with the parliament and member states to ensure progress is made towards adopting the revised directive as soon as possible.”


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