The new EIA Regulations came in to force on the 16th May 2017. This new regulation transposes the 2014 amended EIA Directive into UK law. The new regulations do not contain any unexpected changes and the Government has chosen to keep the changes to the minimum required to comply with the directive.
The key changes include:
- The Screening process has become mandatory and more detailed. This change is likely to require project teams coming together earlier in the project process.
- The scoping opinion becomes binding and any ES must be ‘based on’ the scoping opinion. However, requesting a scoping opinion is still voluntary. In cases where Greengage Environmental manage the EIA and the production of the ES, early consultation with the LPA is strongly recommended.
- New or expanded topics have been introduced covering biodiversity, human health and climate change adaptation, amongst others, topics that Greengage Environmental are well versed in: a recent project where we provided climate change adaptation expertise and a project where we were the competent experts for the socio economic and health impact assessment.
- A requirement for the ES to be produced by ‘competent experts’ and the ES will need to be accompanied by a statement summarising the relevant expertise. The definition of ‘competent expert’ has not been defined yet but is expected to follow soon.
- There is a new requirement for the consenting authority to ensure a ‘co-ordinated’ approach is taken where a project is subject to both an EIA and a Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA). In practice, this already occurs from the consultants’ side who generally produce the documents/shadow documents for the Competent Authority.