HC Deb 25 June 2002 vol 387 c750W
Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what standards her Department uses to assess the environmental impact of proposed development projects; and whether the environmental standards applied to development projects are less stringent than those applied in the United Kingdom. [63515]

Clare Short

DFID are rarely involved in funding major infrastructure projects of the sort that would require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in the UK. DFID procedures require environmental screening on all projects above £1 million, or below this threshold if significant environmental impacts are anticipated. The screening is supported by DFID's environmental guide, which provides guidance, such as screening checklists that highlight potential beneficial and adverse impacts. If initial screening indicates that an activity could have significant impacts on the environment, then further investigation must be undertaken, which may include further environmental analysis; a full EIA; or an environmental audit. The objective of DFID's appraisal system is not only to assess potential positive or negative impacts, but also to seek opportunities to improve policy formulation and decision-making, e.g. we are currently undertaking an appraisal of strategic choices regarding Russia's accession to the WTO.

The DFID environmental appraisal process applies to expenditure on policies, programmes and projects. The EC EIA directive, transposed into UK legislation, currently applies to projects (e.g. building new roads, building power stations, etc.), but the EU directive on programmes and plans (2001/42/EC) is in the process of becoming UK law. DFID procedures also allow for intermediate level of investigation—environmental analysis—where a full EIA is not required. In the UK EIA legislation there is no such intermediate form of analysis.

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