Environmental Impact Assessments
Update

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (“EIA Regulations 2011”) came into force on 24 August 2011 in England only. The EIA Regulations 2011 consolidate and amend the previous Regulations and introduce a number of key changes, including: 

  • If a development scheme is modified, the associated EIA should cover the impact of the whole development rather than the modification on its own;
  • If a local planning authority issues a negative screening decision, it is required to give clear reasons for doing so;
  • If an EIA has been submitted for an outline planning application, there is no requirement for public consultation to be undertaken at the reserved matters stage if the original EIA is still adequate.

The Court of Appeal has recently handed down its long awaited judgment in Mageean v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and others [2011] EWCA Civ 863 which provides guidance to developers on whether a screening direction is required to be reconsidered due to the passage of time. The High Court had previously quashed a planning permission on the basis that the Secretary of State (SoS) should have reconsidered a screening direction provided 6 years earlier due to a material change in circumstances. The direction advised that the proposed wind turbine was not EIA development however, in the interim period, nearby land was designated as a World Heritage Site (WHS).  The developer appealed against the High Court’s decision. The Court of Appeal held that the Inspector’s failure to ask the SoS to reconsider the direction was not irrational as the Inspector had concluded that the proposed development would not have a detrimental impact on the WHS and had not been requested to refer the direction back to the SoS by any parties.  The Court of Appeal also confirmed the High Court’s view that the lapse of time did not automatically require the screening direction to be reconsidered.

For advice or more information, contact Alex Madden or Sarah Sutherland.

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