New Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations

On 16th May 2017, the new Town and Country Planning Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations came into force. A copy of the new Regulations can be found here. Find the technical consultation published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) here.

Any Development Projects that obtained EIA Screening, Scoping Opinions or where an Environmental Statement that were submitted prior to 16th May 2017, are to be determined under the 2011 Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

Key Changes 

The key changes to the Regulations from a practical perspective are summarised below:

EIA Screening

  • There are no significant changes to the Schedule 2 thresholds. Of which EIA needs to be considered with the exception of the threshold for industrial estate developments. Which have been reduced from 5 hectares to 0.5 hectares. However, the information required to request an EIA Screening Opinion has increased. However this now needs to include an assessment of the likely significant environmental effects of the proposals. Including the details of any mitigation measures that have been adopted in the current design. This gives the Applicant the opportunity to demonstrate that there would be no significant environmental effects as a result of the development. Therefore, potentially avoiding the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment. As a consequence of the additional information required, to support an EIA Screening request, The Local Planning Authority has the ability to extend the deadline for issuing their Screening Opinion from 3 weeks to 90 days. This needs to be taken into account in the submission programme.

EIA Scoping

  • This stage in the Environmental Impact Assessment process remains voluntary. The scope of EIA has been extended to include consideration of ‘human health’, ‘climate change’ and ‘biodiversity’. As well as the impacts of ‘major disasters’. These topics will require careful cross-referencing with air quality, noise, ecology and water resources assessments. For example, as the ‘new’ EIA topics introduce a certain degree of overlap. The Local Planning Authority still has a period of 5 weeks within which to provide their Scoping Opinion.

Environmental Statement

  • The main practical change is that it needs to be demonstrated that the EIA has been prepared by ‘competent experts’. Therefore, each technical chapter of the ES will need to include a statement by the author(s) on their qualifications and relevant experience in order to demonstrate competence.

RMA’s Environmental Planning Team is able to provide robust and practical technical advice throughout the EIA process; for more information contact us via email – or call us on 01884 842740