Changes to the EIA Directive

May 22, 2014

The new EIA Directive for 2014/52/EU (the 2014 EIA Directive) which amends the EIA Directive on the assessments of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment came into effect in mid May 2014. The EU took the view that it was necessary to amend the previous EIA Directive in order to ensure that environmental protections improved, resource efficiency increased and sustainable growth was supported within the European Union.

Whilst the new EIA Directive is quite detailed and lengthy, below is a high level summary of the main changes to the EIA Directive as practitioners and professionals currently know it:-

• Changes to the Recitals section which are likely to play an important role in putting the Directive and the interpretation and application of same into context;

• The projects that require an Environmental Impact Assessment (i.e. Annex I and Annex II of the 2011 EIA Directive) has not changed;

• Environmental Statement will now be referred to as an “EIA Report”;

• Screening – the screening process has been amended quite substantially and the changes aim to strengthen the process. Where screening is required for a project (i.e. Annex II projects) a Screening Report will need to be submitted. The 2014 EIA Directive includes a list of specific information to be included within the Screening Report in order to assist competentauthorities when providing their Screening Opinion;

• Mitigation measures can be considered during the screening process, however, these will have to be specified and there is a requirement to retain such measures in the final development proposals (i.e. most likely by way of a Planning Condition or Planning Agreement);

• EIA Reports will have to be prepared by “competent experts” and the competent authoritiesare required to examine the EIA report;

• EIA Reports are to consider a wider scope of environmental issues including human health, biodiversity, climate change, vulnerability to accidents and disasters and resource use;

• The assessment of alternatives must include baseline scenario and all other reasonable alternatives that are relevant to the project and its specific characteristics;

• A cumulative assessment must take into account existing and approved developments and not other projects that are going through the planning process;

• Conflict of interest must be avoided and the specific scenario is given of where a competent authority is both the developer and decision maker and in such circumstances a functional separation would need to be implemented;

• National legislation must establish rules on penalties applicable to infringement of the national provisions relating to the Directive and such penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

National provisions must be brought into force in order to ensure compliance with the 2014 EIA

Directive by 16 May 2017.

Please note: The content of this article is for information purposes only and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor before any action is taken.
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