Directive 2014/52/EU amends the previous EIA Directive (Directive 2011/92/EU) on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment. It introduces changes in EIA requirements across the EU. We has been staying at the forefront of best practice by familiarising ourselves with the background to, and the the implications of the Directive as part of our commitment to continuing research and professional development.
The most significant changes in the Irish context include a new requirement for EISs to be prepared by ‘competent experts’. This means that the people preparing the EIS will need appropriate qualifications. Some professionals who have previously prepared EISs, for example architects or design engineers, may not be deemed to be ‘competent’ in this field.
Another major change is the introduction of a requirement for co-ordination of EIA with procedures that are needed under other EU directives such as the Habitats, Waste and Industrial Emissions Directives. We have been very aware of problems due to inconsistencies in the Regulations so this change is to be welcomed as it ought to improve clarity and certainty.
Other significant changes include changes in screening procedures, inclusion of demolition works when describing development proposals, increased requirement to examine alternatives, broadening of the range of environmental topics to be addressed, mandatory incorporation of mitigation and monitoring measures into consents (e.g. planning permissions), and mandatory post-EIA monitoring (of significant effects).
Member States have three years to transpose the Directive into national regulations. There will be some expectation that EISs should have regard to the changes in the meantime. We can advise on which changes are relevant to specific projects and on the benefits of taking account of them, even before the Irish Regulations are changed.