New EIA regulations laid in parliament
An amendment confirming higher screening thresholds for environmental impact assessments covering housing developments was laid in parliament yesterday.
The changes mean that developers will no longer have to go through the screening process if a site is smaller than five hectares or 150 homes. Screening involves local planning authorities deciding whether a project needs to undergo an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
The thresholds also rise for other types of development. Industrial estate projects will no longer need an EIA unless the area of development is over five hectares in size, while shopping centres, car parks, sports stadiums, leisure centres and multiplex cinemas need to be over one hectare before an EIA is required.
The communities and local government department believes that developments below a certain size are unlikely to result in “significant” environmental impacts and should therefore not need to go through EIA. The changes will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy for developers and local councils, it said.
The new thresholds come into force from 6 April.
In June 2021, the UK’s governing Conservative Party lost a by-election in Chesham and Amersham, a seat it had held for 47 years. The principal reasons reported as the cause of this defeat were proposed planning reforms and the promotion of housebuilding on greenfield sites across the south of England.
As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the EIA Quality Mark, IEMA can announce that, during the past 12 months, the scheme has undergone a thorough review of practice, including stakeholder consultation with registrants and assessors, in order to improve it.
The delivery of effective outcomes for the environment, communities and development is a team effort, and more so when it comes to consenting projects that undergo Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).