European policy consultants
Rural development and renewable energy

Environment Council meeting March '13

Items include:

Proposal for a Directive on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (amending Directive 2011/92/EU) - Orientation debate
– Proposal for a Directive on the quality of petrol and diesel fuels (amending Directive 98/70/EC and Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources) - Orientation debate
– Proposal for a Regulation on "Access to Genetic Resources" etc - Orientation debate

Report on the Review of the REACH Regulation (and Communication from the Commission on "Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials") - followed by Exchange of views.#

The meeting will be chaired by Phil Hogan, Irish Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Directive or EIA Directive (85/337/EEC) has been in force since 1985 and applies to a wide range of public and private projects, which are defined in Annexes I and II:

Mandatory EIA: all projects listed in Annex I are considered as having significant effects on the environment and require an EIA (e.g. long-distance railway lines, motorways and express roads, airports, waste disposal installations, waste water treatment plants;
Discretion of Member States: for projects listed in Annex II, the national authorities have to decide whether an EIA is needed. This is done by the "screening procedure", which determines the effects of projects on the basis of thresholds/criteria or a case by case examination. The projects listed in Annex II include urban development projects, flood-relief works, and may include some agricultural projects.

The Directive has been amended three times. The Directive of 1997 widened the scope of the EIA Directive by increasing the types of projects covered, and the number of projects requiring mandatory environmental impact assessment (Annex I). It also provided new screening criteria (at Annex III) for Annex II projects, and established minimum information requirements.

Directive 2009/31/EC amended the Annexes I and II of the EIA Directive, by adding projects related to the transport, capture and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2).

The initial Directive of 1985 and its three amendments were then codified by Directive 2011/92/EU of 13 December 2011.

The EIA procedure, in summary, is that the developer may request the competent authority to say what should be covered by the EIA information (scoping stage); the developer must provide information on the environmental impact (EIA report – see Annex IV); the environmental authorities and the public (and affected Member States) must be informed and consulted; and then the competent authority decides. The public is informed of the decision and can challenge the decision before the courts.

As a result of a review process, on 26 October 2012, the Commission adopted a proposal for a revised Directive

Note: The environmental sensitivity of geographical areas likely to be affected by projects
must be considered, with particular regard to:
(a) the existing and planned land use, including land take and fragmentation;
(b) the relative abundance, availability, quality and regenerative capacity of natural
resources (including soil, land, water, and biodiversity) in the area;
(c) the absorption capacity of the natural environment, paying particular attention to
the following areas:
(i) wetlands, riparian areas, river mouths;
(ii) coastal zones;
(iii) mountain and forest areas;
(iv) nature reserves and parks, permanent pastures, agriculture areas with a high
nature value;
(v) areas classified or protected under Member States' legislation; Natura 2000 areas
designated by Member States; and areas protected by
international conventions;
(vi) areas in which there has already been a failure to meet the environmental quality
standards, laid down in Union legislation and relevant to the project, or is likely to be
such a failure; and
(vii) densely populated areas;