Proposed EIA Directive needs work

14th January 2013


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IEMA

The European Commission's proposals to update the environmental impact assessment (EIA) Directive (2011/92/EU) offer some good opportunities to improve practice but refinements are needed, concluded a roundtable of practitioners brought together by IEMA

Consultants from the Institute’s EIA Quality Mark scheme were joined by representatives from developers, Runnymede Borough Council and the British Property Federation to examine the key changes, including mandatory screening reports for all annex II projects and integrating scoping into the screening process.

Discussions covered the potential for a dramatic increase in the number of screening documents each year – likely due to EU policymakers failing to appreciate the scale of the change; the possible benefits and risks of mandatory scoping in the screening process; and the environmental value, but business burden, of ongoing monitoring of significant adverse effects.

While welcoming the commission’s suggestion highlighting the importance of competent practitioners, the delegates debated whether rewording the requirement to include “technical experts” rather than “accredited EIA experts” could provide assurance of competence without increasing administration.

“The roundtable was a real breakthrough moment for the UK with EIA Quality Mark consultants, developer representatives and decision makers exchanging views on the Directive’s current performance and future direction,” said Josh Fothergill, IEMA’s EIA practice lead.

“While we did not reach a consensus in every area, all parties came away with a wider perspective and we agreed to ongoing dialogue focused on delivering more proportionate and effective practice.”

Martin Broderick, senior technical director at WSP Environment & Energy, who hosted the event, said the discussion was a useful exercise in helping UK practitioners to develop a cogent response to the draft amendments.

“IEMA has played an important role in ensuring that the amendments will contribute constructively to improving and developing EIA practice across the bloc,” he commented. “With the Treasury and Infrastructure UK recently announcing the 2012 update to the national infrastructure plan, it is vital that in a UK context we get the EIA Directive amendments right, to ensure all the much needed infrastructure the UK needs is delivered in a truly sustainable manner.”

The roundtable discussion is helping to inform IEMA’s forthcoming series of free half-day workshops for its members asking for feedback on the proposed amendments to the EIA Directive.

The workshops will take place in Cambridge on 16 January, and in London, Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh, Oxford, Manchester, Glasgow, Exeter, Cardiff and Birmingham during February. For dates, details and booking, visit iema.net/events.


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