Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a system of assessing the environmental effects of development projects before they are granted planning permission. Over the past three years the European Commission has undertaken a comprehensive review of the Directive and it published, in October 2012, a series of proposals which will introduce significant changes to the existing Directive.

Unfortunately, the Commission’s proposals, as written, raise significant concerns about added cost to both developers and planning authorities, and time burdens especially for smaller developers. They will also heighten the opportunity for legal challenge.

The CLA believes the Commission’s proposals need to achieve a proper balance between protecting the environment and imposing burdens on developers and local planning authorities. We do not think the proposals do this. If ratified in their current state, the proposals will prevent economic development especially in rural areas where new rural development is mainly small scale.

The CLA has been working very closely with the Government, which has similar concerns, on this issues and with other like-minded organisations both in the UK and in Brussels. The CLA is lobbying on behalf of members to amend these proposals to make them more flexible and less burdensome for developers.

** Update 24 June 2016 **

There are a number of areas in which EU law has an impact on the UK’s planning system and which are consequently likely to be affected by the BREXIT referendum result. These include the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

It is quite possible that the requirement to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments on some types of development proposals will likely to continue, but the government may want to look again at the regulations and introduce changes in the future.

For the time being this subject area remains under review.