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Consultation on Draft EIA Regulations in Scotland

Scottish Ministers are consulting on proposals for implementing the new EIA Directive (2014/52/EU). The consultation will be open for 12 weeks from 9th August to 31st October 2016 and is available here.

The UK (incl. Scotland) continues to be a member of the EU and as such is statutorily obligated to transpose the new EIA Directive into legislation by the deadline of 16th May 2017.

The following transitional arrangements apply:

  • Where an application for screening has been initiated prior to 16th May 2017 then that screening application will be subject to the current 2011 Directive.
  • The current 2011 Directive will continue to apply for applications in which the developer has, before 16th May 2017, submitted an environmental statement or where a scoping opinion has been sought.

Whilst proposed amendments to other EIA regimes are still to be made, draft regulations in relation to Town and Country Planning and Electricity Works have been published.

The key changes proposed are summarised below:

  • The term Environmental Statement is replaced by EIA Report.
  • Screening – Further information required from developers through an EIA Screening Report and potentially longer determination timescales for competent authorities. Screening opinions, positive and negative, must give reasons justifying the decision.
  • Amendments to some of the factors to take into account when considering potential impacts, including replacing “Human Beings” with “Population and Human Health” and “Flora & Fauna” with “Biodiversity”.
  • Requires consideration of effects arising from the risks of major accidents and/or disasters, relevant to the project concerned.
  • Clarification on the content of the EIA Report and a new provision that where a scoping opinion is requested the EIA Report must be “based on” that opinion. Scoping remains non-mandatory.
  • EIA Reports need to be produced by competent experts (no definition provided) and competent authorities must ensure sufficient expertise is available to examine the report.
  • Competent Authorities will have a mandatory requirement to publish information electronically for the first time.
  • Minimum timescale for consultation with the public of 30 days, this is two days longer than for 4 of the EIA regimes.
  • Competent Authorities must integrate reasoned conclusions into any decision and ensure any mitigation measures and monitoring requirements are set out in the consent.
  • Monitoring, if included, should be proportionate to the nature, location and size of the project and its significant effects on the environment.
  • Regarding penalties and fines, it will ultimately be a matter for the courts to determine whether any breach of national EIA provisions has occurred, and ultimately an existing permission could be quashed. No new specific measures are proposed.

Arcus is vastly experienced in the field of EIA and the team includes several IEMA Registered EIA Practitioners.  If you would like further details of the changes being proposed or any advice relating to EIA on your projects, please get in touch: 01904 715 470 environment@arcusconsulting.co.uk