Expanded EIA regulations come into force
New EIA regulations which come into force in England on 16 May 2017 will expand their scope and requirements. Developers can now demonstrate that an EIA is not required by describing the features and measures which will avoid or prevent significantly adverse effects on the environment at the screening stage. This could screen out borderline EIA developments but a level of certainty will still be needed that mitigation measures can be delivered.
LPAs will still need to adopt a screening opinion within three weeks, but this can be extended if the developer agrees.
The new regulations require an Environmental Statement (ES) to be based upon the most recent scoping opinion issued, provided the proposal remains materially the same. Those opinions need to be concise and focused on potential significant effects.
Developers will be obliged to include a comparison of environmental effects of alternative options considered for the first time. This is likely to require more information to be provided on the design iteration process, to show how the final layout was reached.
The ES will need to outline the likely evolution of the baseline environment without the development. This is straightforward with regard to issues such as traffic, air quality and noise, but it requires more expertise to predict the natural changes to landscape or biodiversity from future climate change.
The impact of the development on climate and its vulnerability to climate change will need to be included within an ES, and modelling of different projections may be required. The ES will also need to describe how the environment would be impacted by major accidents and/or disasters. Relevant scenarios in respect of both of these matters will need to be agreed at the scoping stage.
The regulations place responsibility on the developer to show they have employed competent experts to undertake the EIA. For more information, contact Robert Pile who leads LDA Design’s EIA service team which covers a range of EIA disciplines. LDA Design is awarded the EIA Quality Mark from the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.