New EIA Amendments
The Government has changed the screening thresholds for EIA projects under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2015. These came into force on 6 April and are no doubt welcomed by non-residential developers but less so by the larger house-builders.
The new regulations amend the EIA Regulations 2011 which require projects above a certain size to be screened to determine whether they are likely to have significant environmental effects and, if so, will be subject to a requirement for an environmental impact assessment.
The primary threshold changes are summarised below:
1. Industrial estate development – in excess of 5 hectares (previously 0.5 hectares)
2. Urban development projects:
- the development includes more than 1 hectare of non- residential development; or
- the development includes more than 150 dwelling houses; or
- the entire development area exceeds 5 hectares (previously 0.5 hectares)
The Government expects the amendments to reduce the number of projects which are unlikely to give rise to significant environmental effects that are currently being screened unnecessarily. There is doubt, however, whether the introduction of the 150 dwelling house threshold for residential developments will have the opposite effect and concerns remain about cumulative effect.