An Environmental Statement is prepared by an applicant as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in support of certain planning applications (see Environmental Impact Assessment for more information). It summarises the findings of the EIA process and is used primarily to inform decision makers regarding the environmental implications of the development. In addition, it should provide appropriate information for statutory consultees, other interested organisations and members of the public and should provide a basis for consultation.
There is no specific statutory format prescribed for Environmental Statements, however they must contain the information specified in the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011, which includes:
- Description of the development.
- Outline of alternatives considered as part of the decision making process.
- Description of the environmental aspects likely to be significantly affected by the development.
- Description of the likely significant effects of the development on the environment.
- Description of the measures for avoiding or reducing significant environmental effects.
- A non-technical summary.
- Any difficulties encountered during the EIA process.
The Environmental Statement should provide a detailed, factual account of the development, but Schedule 4 of the Regulations promotes emphasis on the “main” or “significant” effects.
Additional guidance is available on the Government's Planning Practice Guidance website.
It is not necessary to undertake consultation regarding an Environmental Statement, however,stakeholders and the local planning authority may have valuable local information which is relevant to the development. In addition, the local planning authority may provide a formal opinion on the content of the Environmental Statement (a Scoping Opinion). When formulating a Scoping Opinion, the local planning authority must consult with relevant consultation bodies.
Where required, an Environmental Statement is submitted alongside a planning application, and should be publicised in accordance with the details of Article 13 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010. Consultation bodies require a copy of the Environmental Statement and the local planning authority send a copy to the Secretary of State.
- Inclusion of a contents document including all the volumes, chapters, tables, figures, annexes and appendices that will be presented as part of the statement.
- An electronic contents document should include hyperlinks to the items listed above.
- The contents should include all documents to be read in conjunction with it.
- The electronic versions of all documents should be titled appropriately so that their subject matter is easily determined.
The Planning Inspectorate guidance suggests a scoping process is undertaken to determine the appropriate scope of the Environmental Statement.
In April 2015, the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessments)(Amendment) Regulations 2015 came into effect, raising the threshold above which a screening decision is required to determine whether an environmental statement is necessary, as set out in the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011. Controversially, this raised the threshold for industrial estates, residential developments and other urban developments from 0.5 hectares to five hectares (or 150 units for residential developments).
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