Just before Christmas the Government published a consultation document on changes to the EIA regulations, these changes are required to transpose the 2014 EIA Directive into UK law by the end of 2017 (attached).
In summary, the main changes are:
- Introducing a new definition of ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’.
- Alteration to the matters needed to be considered by an EIA to:
- population and human health;
- biodiversity, with particular attention to species and habitats protected under Directive 92/43/EEC and wild birds protected under Directive 2009/147/EC;
- land, soil, water, air and climate;
- material assets, cultural heritage and the landscape;
- the interaction between the factors referred to above
- Clarifications regarding exemptions for defence projects and projects required to provide a response to civil emergencies.
- Requirement of a joint approach where an EIA is required and an assessment under the Habitats and/or Wild Birds Directives.
- Requirement that authorities make screening decisions public and provide reasons for their decisions whether an EIA is needed or not. If an EIA is not needed the decision must list features of the project and/or action to be undertaken to avoid negative effects on the environment.
- Update to the minimum information required for screening opinion and scoping opinion requests.
- Requirement for notification and documentation relating to Environmental Impact Assessment developments to be made electronically.
- Where permission is granted the decision should note the reasoned conclusion; environmental conditions; and a description of any parts or actions in the project to reduce the risk of significant adverse effects on the environment. It should also set out any monitoring measures including for how long monitoring of environmental effects should take place.
- Introduction of a requirement that the applicant must ensure that the environmental report is prepared by competent experts, which has been defined in the consultation as: “persons who, by virtue of their qualifications or experience, have sufficient expertise to ensure the completeness and quality of the report”.
- Introduction of a requirement that the competent authorities have to be objective and avoid conflicts of interest.
The consultation ends on 31 January 2017 and the documents can be found on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website at the following link: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/housing-and-planning/environmental-impact-assessment-eia-changes/.