Government to reduce requirements for environmental impact assessments

Out-Law News | 15 Jan 2014 | 4:45 pm | 1 min. read

The Government will introduce changes to the planning system which will exempt certain development proposals from the need to submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA), the Daily Telegraph has reported . 

According to the report a package of measures will be unveiled in April, which will raise the threshold for carrying out an EIA to developments to a "significantly higher level". The measures will also include scope for automatic discharge of planning conditions where the local authority fails to deal with applications for such discharge.

Planning Minister Nick Boles said that the reforms would "significantly cut the burdens of unnecessary planning applications, help local authorities and developers reduce the administration involved in EIA cases and simplify the listed building consent system".

"These policies will save industry precious time and money, allowing businesses to move forward productively without the constraints of heavy handed and unnecessary regulation," he said according to the report.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said that the Government is concerned that "too many unreasonable conditions are imposed, which can be up to 100 different requirements". "In turn, these can then prevent construction work starting on sites and houses being built, sometimes adding years to the planning process."

"EIAs stem from European Union law and impose significant costs on the planning system, over and above long-standing, domestic environmental safeguards. It has become apparent that some local planning authorities require detailed assessment of all environmental issues irrespective of whether EU directives actually require it; similarly, some developers do more than is actually necessary to avoid the possibility of more costly legal challenges, which adds delays and cost to the application process," the spokesperson said.