Environmental Impact Assessments – European Commission Wants Your Views

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legislation of the EU. EIAs are carried out to make sure that the environmental impact of projects is taken into account before final decisions are made. Plans for roads, waste installations, power stations and a range of other projects must go through an EIA.

The original EIA Directive is now 25 years old and needs a re-vamp, says the Commission. EU policy and case law from the European Court need to be reflected better in the law on EIAs. And the Commission wants to see stream-lining of assessment procedures where possible.

The consultation will run until 24 September 2010 and will feed into a revised Directive planned for next year.

The consultation covers issues such as the screening of projects for EIA, the quality of the EIA process, the harmonisation of assessment requirements among Member States, cross-border difficulties when projects affect more than one Member State, the role of the environmental authorities, and development of synergies with other EU policies, such as climate change and biodiversity.

Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik.

The findings of the consultation will feed into a Commission review next year. All interested parties – citizens, stakeholders and organisations involved in environmental assessments – are invited to respond to the public consultation by 24th September 2010. The questionnaire is available in all 22 Community languages.

“Environmental Impact Assessments are one of our most important tools, because if the proper consultations are carried out when a project is launched, there is a much smaller risk of legal action at the end of the process. But we need to make sure that the form they take is suitable for a Europe with 27 countries. So I am looking forward to input from all sides, allowing us to examine these issues carefully and to work out what new measures might be needed,” says Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik.

The consultation document is available at: www.ec.europa.eu/environment/consultations/eia.htm.

Information on the EIA Directive is available at: www.ec.europa.eu/environment/eia/home.htm.

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