Consultation into proposed amendments to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations commenced on 9 August and comments are invited from the public and private sector, businesses and households.
The consultation paper sets out Communities and Local Government’s (CLG’s) proposals for consolidating and amending the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (“the Regulations”).
Changes are required to take account of the latest case law, in particular the Baker Case, and to consolidate the Regulations to make them more accessible. The proposed amendments do not represent a full review of the Regulations as the European Commission is undertaking a review of the EIA Directive which will then be transposed into legislation in the Member States. Guidance will also be updated.
The following changes are proposed:
Proposals to change or extend existing development – The thresholds in Schedule 2 will apply to the development as a whole once modified, and not just to the change or extension. It is also proposed to add a new provision that will require any change or extension to an existing or approved Schedule 1 project to be screened for the need for EIA.
Reasons for negative screening decisions – The reasons for negative screening decisions will be issued by the Secretary of State.
Multi-stage consents – It is intended to remove a provision which was inadvertently introduced through the 2008 amending Regulations applying to multi-stage consents. There is currently an unintentional requirement for public consultation on the environmental statement at each stage, even where the environmental statement produced at the outline stage satisfies the requirements of the EIA Regulations at the later stage. This provision will be removed.
Other changes – These are intended to generally update the regulations and address any minor drafting issues. These include a proposed amendment to the threshold and criteria for wind farms, the addition of the Marine Management Organisation as a statutory consultee and the removal of the criminal offence provision where an applicant is required to publicise an environmental statement. There is also a requirement to add new categories of development to Schedules 1 and 2 to the Regulations to take account of amendments made to the EIA Directive by the new Directive 2009/31/EC4 on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
The consultation can be found at http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/eiaregs2010consult and the closing date for representations is 25th October 2010
Jane Spence, Senior Planner in the firms Minerals and Waste Management Team commented:
The Court in the Baker Case, (R (on the application of Baker) v Bath and North East Somerset Council), held that paragraph 13 of Schedule 2 of the 1999 EIA Regulations did not properly implement the Directive. The proposed amendments now clarify the position with regard to extensions to development.
For more information visit the CLG website or speak to Jane Spence on 01939 210135; firstname.lastname@example.org