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Environmental Impact Assessment Reports.

View profile for David Springett
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Will Brexit change things?

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 outline the requirement for developers to gather an assessment of potential significant effects on the environment relating to a proposed development. The requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment initially came from the European Directive 2011/92/EU, later the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive 2014/52/EU, which came into force on 15th May 2014. Member States were required to apply these regulations no later than 16th May 2017.

What is an Environmental Impact Assessment?

Developers are required to carry out environmental impact assessments when applying for planning permission for certain types of development. This includes, but is not limited to, projects such as:

Crude-oil refineries

Nuclear power stations

Chemical installations

Waste water treatment plants

Construction of motorways

Construction of airport runways and long-distance train lines

Installations dealing with asbestos extraction/processing of products containing asbestos

It may also include a number of developments in the following industries:

Agriculture

Extractive industry

Silviculture

Aquaculture

Energy

Metal production and processing

Chemical

Food

Following the assessment, an Environmental Impact Assessment Report is submitted to the local planning authority who will take this into account when deciding whether or not to provide consent for planning.

What are the legal requirements developers should be aware of?

Developers need to provide the following information:

A description of the project including information relating to the project site, design and size

A description of any measures they envisage taking to reduce or avoid adverse environmental effects

Any data which can help identify/assess the effect the project may have on the environment

An outline of the main alternatives the developer has considered, indicating the main reasons for their choice, taking into account the environmental impact

Developers should ensure that the above points are all covered in a non-technical, simple summary of the proposed project and its impact on the environment.

What responsibilities do EU Member States have?

If it is apparent that a project will have significant adverse environmental effects then the developer is legally required to do the necessary to reduce, prevent or avoid these effects. EU Members States are required to simplify their environmental assessment procedures and make swift decisions, usually within 3 months of submission of an EIA report. Public consultations should last a minimum of 30 days to allow members of the public time to give their opinion on the EIA report findings.

Will the UK planning industry be affected by Brexit?

Because the EIA Directive is one of three key EU Directives (the others being the SEA Directive 2001 and the Habitats Directive 1992), it is unclear whether things will change after Brexit. This depends on the terms reached with the EU.

Should the UK decide to continue as a member of the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area then it’s likely that planning law in the UK will continue to comply with most of the current European legislation. Should the UK decide to operate outside these regimes, however, then EU Directives may cease to influence planning law in the UK.

It is likely that the UK government will attempt to ensure that the requirement for environmental assessment remains, though it may be changed to suit UK circumstances, for instance, the threshold for which an EIA is required could change.

EIA Reports can be complex and a tricky area to navigate without expert advice

At Gepp & Sons we have a fully services Commercial Property Department who can advise you and your business on legal matters relating to land transactions both residential and commercial. For further advice lease contact David Springett on either 01245 228111 or springettd@gepp.co.uk   

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.