New regulations introduce an important change in the way environmental impact assessment is carried out in Ireland in order to comply with a ruling of the European Court. In future environmental impact assessment will be the responsibility of the competent authority that will come to a decision after receiving an environmental impact statement from the developer. The change means that from now on the demolition of national monuments like Lismullin, Co. Meath (pictured) will be the subject of an environmental impact assessment carried out by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
On the 9th of July 2012 the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht commenced the European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment of Proposed Demolition of National Monuments) Regulations 2012. The requirement for the regulations result from the decision of March 2011 of the European Court in case C-50/09 the European Commission vs. Ireland, that Ireland had failed to fulfil its obligations under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive as it had (amongst other things) excluded demolition works from the scope of legislation transposing the Directive into Irish Law. In other words demolition of a significant heritage building or structure where the works would constitute a significant impact on cultural heritage should have required an environmental impact assessment.
The new regulations amend the National Monuments Act 1930 by introducing environmental impact assessment procedures in relation to the demolition of national monuments. The amendment adds a new section 14D and only applies in relation to consents under section 14 or directions under section 14A (as inserted by the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004) in relation to national monuments discovered in the course of construction of an approved road scheme under the Road Act 1993.
This new section requires the Minister, as the competent authority, before deciding to grant a consent or issue directions that would result in the demolition of a national monument to ensure that the proposed demolition has been the subject of an environmental impact assessment. Environmental impact assessment means an assessment, being an assessment which includes an examination, analysis and evaluation, by the Minister that identifies, describes and assesses in an appropriate manner, in light of each individual case and in accordance with Articles 4 to 11 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the direct and indirect effects which proposed demolition of a national monument would have on the following:
(a) human beings, fauna and flora;
(b) soil, water, air, climate and landscape;
(c) material assets and the cultural heritage;
(d) the interaction between the factors referred to in paragraphs (a)
The Minister, as the competent authority will receive information from the applicant in the form of an environmental impact statement, and will then carry out the assessment of impact on the environment of the proposed development. Environmental impact statement means a written statement of the direct and indirect effects, if any, which the proposed demolition of a national monument, if carried out, would have on the environment and which contains the information which an environmental impact statement is required to contain under this section. The Minister may after consultation with the Director of the National Museum and the responsible local authority grant an exemption from these requirements in exceptional circumstances. Where an applicant is required to submit an environmental impact statement a notice of this intention must be published in the press two weeks before the submission of the statement. The Minster must circulate the environmental impact statement to the Director of the National Museum and the responsible local authority. If the Minister considers the environmental impact statement is inadequate he may request further information. The Minister will then carry out an environmental impact assessment of the proposal and decide whether or not to grant a consent or issue directions to demolish the national monument. Once the Minister has decided whether or not to grant consent or issue directions for the demolition of a national monument he shall publish a notice in the press and arrange for the environmental impact statement and information on the decision to be made publicly available.
I will be speaking about EIS practice for quarry developments at the Portobello Institute 10 August 2012. See here
Cite this post as:
Mount, C. 2012. Environmental impact assessment and the demolition of national monuments. The Charles Mount Blog, 19 July 2012. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=906