This paper was originally presented at a seminar in Chambers in July 2006.
“Environmental impact assessment (or EIA as it is normally known) is an increasingly important feature of planning control. It has moved from a position of relative obscurity when introduced in 1988, to a field of law which can scupper major development projects. Planning applications and inquiries have been disrupted whilst, where it is possible to do so, EIA errors are corrected. More dramatically planning consents have been quashed by the Courts on grounds relating to EIA. In the last few years these have included a football stadium, industrial buildings, a gas-fired power station, town centre regeneration proposals, farm buildings and several major housing projects. EIA has become a significant weapon for those seeking to challenge unwanted development and there is no reason to suppose it will become any less. The recent judgments of the ECJ in relation to the need for EIA for reserved matters approval have opened up a new area of difficulty…”