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.