HL Deb 26 January 1988 vol 492 cc622-3WA
Lord Lucas of Chilworth

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they propose to implement the EC Directive on environmental assessment.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (The Earl of Caithness)

A consultation paper on the implementation of the European Community's Directive on environmental assessment was issued by my department in April 1986. In the light of the responses received to that paper we are today issuing a further consultation document about the detailed legal and other mechanisms by which the directive will be implemented. Copies are being placed in the Library.

A further paper includes a draft departmental circular which sets out proposed procedures for projects subject to planning control, including procedures for determining whether individual projects of the types listed in Annex II to the directive should be subject to environmental assessment. The draft circular gives guidance on the scale and character of projects which might require assessment under the directive.

The consultation document also includes proposals for applying the requirements of the directive to types of project listed in Annexes I and II to the directive for which planning permission is not required, including certain agriculture fisheries and forestry projects, highways and other transport projects, and power stations and overhead electricity lines.

I believe that our proposals will make a positive contribution to the effectiveness of our environmental decision-making. But the proposals have been designed to ensure that the requirements of the directive are met without placing unnecessary burdens on developers or unnecessarily complicating the planning process. The planning systems in Great Britain already ensure that the environmental implications of new development are considered before permission is granted. For major projects likely to have significant environmental effects environmental assessment can be a valuable technique for drawing together information so that those effects are taken fully into account in planning the project and deciding whether it should proceed. Member states are required to take the measures necessary to comply with the directive before 3rd July 1988. Similar consultation papers will be issued by the Scottish Office, the Welsh Office and by (DoE) Northern Ireland Office.