Consultation has now closed and the replacement Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations will come into force on 16th May 2017. So what can developers do to safeguard their development projects and maximise the known and less onerous requirements of the current regulations?
Developers should take action ahead of the cut-off date of 16th May in one of a number of different ways to avoid their current or emerging projects being subject to the new Town and Country Planning (EIA) Regulations 2017.
The new regime includes amendments to timescales, the content of EIA reports, greater emphasis on mitigation and monitoring, as well as an emphasis on ensuring all reports are prepared by competent specialists with sufficient expertise – all of which are important considerations for developers.
We recommend acting now in ONE of the following ways:
- A Screening Opinion should be requested from the competent authority which confirms whether an EIA is required, or
- A Scoping Opinion should be requested from the competent authority which confirms what needs to be included in the EIA, or
- An Environmental Statement report should be submitted for a project.
Subject to achieving any of the above, and provided the developer does not subsequently screen or scope for the same project, post 16th May, the project will be immune from having to comply with the 2017 EIA regime, as the provisions of the current 2011 EIA Regulations will still apply.
For everyone working in the field, there are ‘grey’ areas and developers should seek expert advice from an IEMA EIA Quality Mark accredited firm as soon as possible. These practitioners will be able to look at individual cases and establish the best route forwards in terms of options regarding EIA and the forthcoming regulations.