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UEPC achieves lobbying goals in Environmental Impact Assessment Directive vote

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UEPC achieves lobbying goals in Environmental Impact Assessment Directive vote

The revision of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive is an issue of key importance which could severely hamper the ability of developers to obtain development consent for projects, in terms of leading to additional costs, bureaucracy and time delays, if the approach of the European Commission proposal was followed.

UEPC has been lobbying MEPs to secure a number of improvements to the proposed legislation, and we are very pleased to inform you that many of our suggestions have been taken on board in today’s vote in the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee.

The key points were as follows:
  • Achieving an appropriate time frame for the approval of projects: The deadlines for decisions shall be left to Member States both at the stages of (1) screening to decide if an environmental impact assessment is needed and (2) granting development consent. In the case of screening, the deadline set by Member States not exceed 90 days under normal circumstances and a further 60 days in exceptional circumstances. In relation to granting development consent the deadline set by Member States may not exceed 90 days in normal circumstances and a further 90 days in exceptional circumstances. Where the deadline is extended in exceptional cases the developer must be informed in writing.
  • Ensuring the use of qualified and independent experts. MEPs supported our view that EIAs should be conducted by independent qualified and technically competent experts – these do not need to be accredited as this would have led to additional bureaucracy.
  • Limiting the amount of information provided and the presentation of alternatives to the project considered: A number of amendments were suggested in line with UEPC’s suggestions including the following:
  • In relation to screening, developers shall only provide summary information on the characteristics of the project, its potential impact on the environment and the measures envisaged in order to avoid and reduce significant effects. The amount of information to be provided by the developer shall be kept to a minimum and limited to the key aspects that allow the competent authority to make its decision;
  • Where an environmental impact assessment must be carried out, the developer shall only be required to refer to reasonable alternatives which are relevant to the proposed project and its specific characteristics and which enable a comparative assessment of the sustainability of the considered alternatives in the light of their significant impacts.
We therefore consider that this is a very positive outcome for UEPC members. The report will now be voted in the plenary session in the autumn and the Council is also continuing its own discussions with a strong emphasis on reducing the administrative burden and enhancing flexibility, therefore we anticipate that the final legislation is likely to represent a significant improvement to the Commission’s original proposal.

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