Commission Refers Ireland to Court Over Incomplete Environmental Impact Assessment Laws

The European Commission is urging Ireland to bring its national legislation on assessing the effects of projects on the environment into line with EU rules. Despite considerable interaction with the Commission, legislation on environmental impact assessments in Ireland still contains shortcomings.

A fundamental objective of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA Directive) is to ensure that projects likely, by virtue of their nature, size or location, to have significant effects on the environment are subject to an impact assessment. Despite an earlier referral to the Court and a subsequent Court ruling in March 2011 Ireland has not yet ensured the full transposition of the EIA Directive into national law.

Concerns remain regarding the complete transposition of Article 3 of the Directive, avoiding any negative consequences of split decision making between Irish planning authorities and the Irish Environment Protection Agency, and the exclusion of demolition works. Ireland generally accepts the Court’s findings and stated its intention to adopt all the necessary legislation to implement the Court’s judgment by the end of May 2012. However the necessary legislation has not yet been adopted, so the Commission is referring the case back to the Court.

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