Posted by: swinemoor | June 6, 2010

EIA Screening Opinion

An EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment or Environmental Statement [ES]) is a report that a planning authority can request of a developer if a development falls within certain parameters or where the planning authority feels the development could have significant impacts outside the development site.

Why was no EIA requested by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Planning Department for the development on Swinemoor Lane?

 A tricky question this and one that was asked of the the PCT and the developers at their roadshow meeting of 19th June 2009. The questioner was informed by the above at this meeting that the local council had written to them saying that no EIA was required. No letter to this effect was posted on ERYC’s website prior this meeting, however, a letter telling the PCT that an EIA was required (a so-called Screening Opinion) was written three days after this meeting on 22nd June 2009!

What was the reasoning behind ERYC’s decision?  Errrrrm, basically there isn’t one.  Below is the relevant sentence from the letter in question. The actual letter can be found here:

ES statement paragraph

This doesn’t actually give an explanation of why no EIA was required. What do the EIA Regulations actually say? Here is an extract from the Regulations referring to Schedule 2 (which applies to the Swinemoor Site):

This says that a Screening Opinion must be made by reference to the criteria in Schedule 3.  What are these criteria? Below is an extract from Schedule 3, the actual Schedule can be found here.

The Screening Opinion given by the planners at ERYC clearly does not comply with the Regulations. Below are some examples of Screening Opinions from other councils by way of contrast with what happened with the Swinemoor Site.

An example from Brent.

Another example from Brent.

An example from Coventry.

Why is this important?

An EIA would have teased out ALL of the current difficulties that the choice of this site has raised, such as damage to the area’s ecology, traffic, noise, lighting and flooding. 

If the council had insisted on an EIA it would have identified and quantified all these issues before a spade was put in the ground, however, this would have led to delay. Did the council put the PCT’s imperative of building this hospital before identifying its environmental and social impact? It certainly looks that way.

Why did the council produce an unsubstantiated letter saying no EIA was required on the site three days after the developer and the PCT said that they already had a letter saying this?

A generous commentator might say that the PCT had already been told over the phone by ERYC that an EIA was not required and the actual writing of the letter took a few days longer. In this case one could reasonably expect a detailed letter justifying the council’s decision with reference to Schedule 3 of the Regulations.

A less generous commentator might say that a phone call was made by the PCT to ERYC after the meeting on 19th June 2009  and a letter was rattled off quickly by the council to the effect that an EIA was not required. If this were the case, such a letter could not have covered all the points in Schedule 3 as there would not have been time to address these before it was written.


Responses

  1. […] order to build a hospital on this site that led to this situation. Had the council insisted on an Environmental Impact Assessment and adequate surveying in accordance with published caselaw and planning guidance, this would never […]

  2. […] or the Local Planning Authority. However, in view of the lessons learned from the way that ERYC behaved over the Swinemoor ‘Hospital’ fiasco, we know we cannot rely on the LPA implementing […]


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