3.1 You Said
168. Generally the majority of responses received to the written consultation and at the consultation workshops welcomed the Scottish Government's proposed approach to transposing the requirements of the EIA Directive 2014/52/ EU into Scottish legislation. Comments and views were more mixed when it came to considering whether and to what extent the requirements would result in changes to current practice.
169. One of the key themes throughout the responses was guidance, and comments emphasised the need for clarity on both new and amended processes to guide and encourage transparency and consistency in the process.
170. A common theme raised was that of capacity and resources, for competent authorities, consultation bodies and practitioners. This was raised particularly around the transition to the new arrangements, in the context of knowledge, skills and expertise, with a consensus on the need for adequate resourcing.
171. Respondents also emphasised the need for the new regulations to be in keeping with the Directive, particularly in terms of proportionality and being an assessment based on potential 'significant' effects.
172. Finally, respondents commented that proposals were unlikely to have any negative impact on equality groups, however more detail was provided on both the estimated costs and benefits to businesses in the short and longer term.
3.2 We did
173. One of the central themes throughout the responses was guidance, which was requested in a range of circumstances, from definitions to interpretation and direction. Comments emphasised the need for this to be clear and accessible to support consistency and certainty in practice. However it was raised at a stakeholder event, that guidance, particularly operational should not only come from government and needs to be developed by practitioners.
174. Planning guidance was often identified as one of the most common sources used; as such this will be updated and re-issued in 2017 to take account of the changes in the Directive. Transport Scotland is also considering an update to the Technical Guide to Transport and Works (Scotland) Act 2007.
175. The Energy Consents Unit is currently undertaking a review of all of its guidance and changes made as a result of this transposition will be incorporated. Marine Scotland are considering an update to the general marine licensing guidance and their draft licensing manual for offshore renewables and Forestry Commission Scotland are considering revising their forestry guidance in light of the outcomes of the consultation. Agriculture are also considering revising their guidance.
176. Throughout the transposition the approach has been to meet the requirements of the Directive with minimal additional regulatory burden whilst ensuring the protection of the environment and aligning with the principles of better regulation.
177. One of the ways in which we have sought to better regulate is by proposing to combine the Agriculture (Scotland) Regulations with Land Drainage and Irrigation Projects on agricultural land, (previously part of the Controlled Activities regime) into one instrument instead of three: The Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (Scotland) Regulations 2017. This would simplify the statutory landscape and harmonise the requirements of environmental impact assessment across the three areas, and in doing so we hope will increase transparency and consistency.
178. Accessibility was highlighted throughout comments in relation to publication, consultation and notification of EIA Reports. The majority of respondents agreed with the approach, however some felt information could be made more accessible. In order to aid accessibility we will create a webpage on the mygov.scot website which will signpost EIA information across all regimes.
3.3 What next?
179. Several respondents provided technical comments on the accompanying draft legislation; these comments will inform final drafting of the legislation. Following which legislation will be laid in Scottish Parliament for their consideration, the new instruments are named below.
The Agriculture and Land Drainage (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
The Forestry (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
The Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017
The Transport and Works (Scotland) Act 2007 (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017
The Transport and Works (Scotland) Act 2007 (Applications and Objections Procedure) Amendment Rules 2017
Email: Hannah Eamer