While the Policy changes above should benefit everyone, the changes to EIA screening will most certainly slow down matters. It will probably be more difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to gain planning permission for Schedule 2 developments which may require EIA. Avoiding EIA saves time and money, but this regulatory changes makes that more difficult. It will be implemented in May.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is now undertaking final consultation on the implementation of this recent EU Directive. It will come into force in May, so it needs to be taken on board now by any party planning an application that could require and EIA.
The new changes will be implemented by amending the TCPA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 and re-issuing it as TCPA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017.
If the developer is asking for a project to be screened out of the EIA process, they will now have to produce a much more extensive document, that includes the mitigation measures that mean that no significant impacts are likely to arise. This will mean a short version of an EIA will need to be produced, probably something along the lines of what is already provided for non-EIA projects.
The period allowed for the LPA to screen projects has been lengthened to up to 90 days, which is three times longer than at present. A more comprehensive list of subjects for consideration has also been included, focusing about the risks the development may create in terms of accidents or disasters relevant to the development.
It is evident that this will be a particularly onerous burden. If the LPA considers a development to require EIA, then the requirements for screening will be so extensive, that is may just be easier to supply an EIA. The current thresholds still apply, so at least there is no change in that regard, but for moderate scale , Schedule 2 developments, expect that more EIAs will need to be produced.