In July of this year the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government issued new guidelines for planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála on carrying out environmental impact assessment. The guidelines define environmental impact assessment as the role of the planning authority and establish new procedures to carry out assessments in an open and transparent manner.
As a result of the European Court decision C-50/09 (Commission v Ireland) that Article 3 of the environmental impact assessment Directive had not been adequately transposed into Irish law sections 171 and 172 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 were amended by section 54 of the Planning and Development Act 2010.
Section 171a of the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended now states:
171A.-(1) In this part-‘environmental impact assessment’ means an assessment carried out by a planning authority or the Board, as the case may be, in accordance with this Part and regulations made thereunder, that shall identify, describe and assess 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 of a proposed development on the following: human beings, flora and fauna, soil, water, air, climate and the landscape, material assets and the cultural heritage, and the interaction between the factors mentioned in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c).
Section 172 (1B) of P & D Act 2000 as amended now states:
- An applicant for consent to carry out a proposed development referred to in subsection (1) shall furnish an environmental impact statement to the planning authority or the Board, as the case may be, in accordance with the permission regulations.
These new provisions came into force on the 19th of November 2010.
In order to provide practical guidance to planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála on the new procedures involved in environmental impact assessment the Department has issued new draft guidelines under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
The guidelines set out a new assessment procedure in which the environmental impact assessment must be carried out by the planning authority or An Bord Pleanála in an open and transparent manner and must be documented with a paper trail available for public scrutiny. The main planners report will now have to contain an environmental impact assessment report. This report will be based on information provided by the developer in the environmental impact statement, submissions from third parties, internal planning authority data and if required requests further information. The report will also have to assess and evaluate the accuracy and veracity of the information submitted and comment on the adequacy of the environmental impact statement. The environmental impact assessment report should identify, describe and assess all the likely significant direct and indirect effects of the proposed development noting their timescale and magnitude.
The assessment itself must be carried out by the decision maker (i.e. the manager or delegated person) who must indicate in a written statement separate to the decision on the planning file that they have read the environmental impact assessment report and either accepted its conclusions in whole or in part or have not accepted them. Where the decision-maker has decided not to accept some or all of the conclusions made by the planner in the environmental impact assessment report they must give reasons why they have not accepted them
The environmental impact statement prepared by the developer will continue to contain the same information required by the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 and article 5 of the EIA Directive. The focus of the environmental impact statement is on providing information, data and description of the proposed development and the aspects of the environment likely to be effected. The developer is also required to submit a description of the likely significant effects of the proposed project on the environment. They must also submit an outline of the main alternatives studied, a non-technical summary of the information provided and an indication of any difficulties encountered in compiling the required information.
Also in response to the C-50/09 judgement in July of this year the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht commenced the European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment of Proposed Demolition of National Monuments) Regulations 2012. This deals with the exclusion of demolition works from the scope of legislation transposing the EIA Directive into Irish Law see here.
Cite this post as:
Mount, C. 2012. Department of the Environment issues new draft Guidelines on carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment. The Charles Mount Blog, 13 September 2012. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=930
Update 17/9/12. The Institute of Archaeologist of Ireland have made a a submission on the guidelines.
The IAI made a submission to the Department of Environment, Community and Rural Development in response to the publication of draft guidelines for planning authorities on carrying out environmental impact assessment. While the IAI welcomes the publications of these guidelines we have a number of significant concerns in relation to the competency of planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to adequately assess the impact of proposed developments on our archaeological heritage. The full submission can be read here IAI Submission EIA September 2012