THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 22ND JUNE, 2015
REFERENCE FROM PLANNING COMMITTEE - 4TH JUNE, 2015
GENERAL PLANNING MATTERS (DDS) -
(i) Welsh Government Consultation - Proposed Changes to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations and Local Development Orders -
The Committee was presented with a report to update Members on the Welsh Government (WG) consultation on proposed changes to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations and Local Development Orders and to recommend an appropriate response to this consultation.
The consultation sought the Councils views on proposed changes to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations (EIA) 1999. It also proposed changes to the (Development Management Procedure) (Wales) Order 2012 in order to facilitate Local Development Orders that grant permission for EIA development.
The consultation papers attached to the report at Appendix A included a set of specific questions to which the Welsh Government was requesting views. The closing date for replies is 18 June 2015.
The consultation paper sets out the Welsh Government’s (WG) proposals for consolidating and amending the EIA Regulations. It also proposed changes to the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Wales) Order 2012 in order to facilitate Local Development Orders (LDOs) that grant permission for EIA development.
EIA was required for all development projects that are listed in Schedule 1 of the EIA Regulations. Development listed in Schedule 2 of the EIA Regulations needs to be screened if it exceeds certain thresholds or is in a sensitive area.
Schedule 2 of the EIA Regulations establishes the screening thresholds for certain types of development projects. Welsh Government had analysed requests for screening decisions that were submitted to the Welsh Ministers and the evidence suggests that some of the existing screening thresholds are too low, leading to many developments being screened unnecessarily. This delays the planning application process and places an administrative burden on the planning system. To address this issue, the consultation paper proposes raising the screening thresholds for certain development projects. These proposed changes are the same as those which will be implemented in England.
The consultation paper also proposed amendments to regulations associated with LDOs in order to allow LPAs to make LDOs for development schemes that comprise Schedule 2 EIA development. This could encourage LPAs to make LDOs for larger development proposals, supporting economic growth and regeneration.
Welsh Government intends to consolidate the regulations, which have been subject to many amendments since 1999, and use the opportunity to incorporate a number of changes that take account of case law. These included:
Proposals to change or extend existing development – it is proposed to apply the thresholds in Schedule 2 to the development as a whole once modified, and not just to the change or extension. WG are also proposing a new provision that requires all changes or extensions to Schedule 1 projects, where these are not Schedule 1 developments in their own right, must be screened as to the need for EIA.
Reasons for negative decisions – WG are proposing a new provision that will make it clear that when the Welsh Ministers or a Planning Authority issue a negative screening decision, they shall make available their reasons for that decision (note: Vale of Glamorgan Council already does this).
Multi-stage consents – Amending Regulations in 2008 required public consultation on the environmental statement at each stage of a multi-stage consent, even in cases where the environmental statement produced at outline stage satisfies the requirements of the EIA Regulations at the later stage. WG intend to remove this requirement to reduce the burden on applicants and Local Planning Authorities.
Geological Storage Directive – European Directive 2009/31/EC (‘the Geological Storage Directive’) amends annexes I and II of the EIA Directive. The consultation paper sets out the proposed approach to implement the requirements of the Geological Storage Directive.
Welsh Government was also asking whether specific provision should be made in the EIA Regulations to address discontinuance and modification orders.
Following consideration of the report, Committee
(1) T H A T the content of the report be noted and the response to the consultation be agreed.
(2) T H A T the matter be referred to Cabinet for information.
Reasons for decisions
(1) To allow the Council to respond to the consultation.
(2) To inform Cabinet of the view of Planning Committee when responding to the consultation.”
Attached as Appendix - Report to Planning Committee - 4th June, 2015