DCLG consults on EIA revisions

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has launched a consultation on plans to bring the planning system in England in line with a new EIA directive.

Wildlife: DCLG is consulting on changes to the Environmental Impact Assessment regime (image: rspb-images.com)
Wildlife: DCLG is consulting on changes to the Environmental Impact Assessment regime (image: rspb-images.com)

The consultation paper sets out the department’s proposals to bring the town and country planning and infrastructure planning regimes in line with a revised version of the EIA directive, which was adopted by the European Parliament in 2014 and must be "transposed" by member states into their own legislations by 16 May 2017.

The consultation document says that, while the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) earlier this year, "until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the EU and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force".

It adds: "During this period, the government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation."

The document says that the government believes that there is "merit in retaining, as far as practical, the existing approach to EIA in England as it is well understood by developers, local planning authorities and others involved in the process".

It adds: "Our proposals for consultation therefore represent what we consider to be the minimum chances necessary to the existing regulations in order to bring them in line with the amended directive."

The government will update national planning practice guidance to reflect the changes "in due course", the consultation document says.

According to the consultation document, key changes include:

- changes to the list of environmental factors to be considered as part of the environmental impact assessment process
- amendments to the information which is required and the criteria to be applied when screening projects to determine whether the directive applies
- a requirement for environmental statements to be "based on" a scoping opinion, where one is issued

The consultation document says that in most cases the text of the revised directive has been "copied out" into draft amended regulations, "but we have proposed an alternative approach where this is beneficial".

The consultation runs for seven weeks.

Environmental Impact Assessment: Technical consultation (regulations on planning and major infrastructure) is available here.

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