Peel NRE’s Planning and Development Manager, Stephen Snowdon gives a low-down on the Government’s planning changes and what it means for cutting-edge development.
As ever, it’s a busy time for planners and developers as the Government’s hunger for policy tinkering doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.
The recently launched consultation on the environmental outcomes reports (EOR) system – the replacement to the 40-year-strong environmental impact assessment (EIA) regime – has only added to the blizzard of reform which planners are expected to endure.
Peel Cubico Renewables is no stranger to EIA, almost every scheme we promote requires one.
However, if the new EOR system is introduced, it will usher in a fundamental change to a well-established element of the planning system.
I suspect that the main rationale behind introducing EOR stems from a desire to reduce legal challenges, alleviate time pressures and simplify the requirements on developers as they assess the environmental impacts of projects.
It is no secret that preparing an EIA can result in desk-crushing volumes of documents to be processed by interested parties but on the face of it, the prospect of a new approach that is built on the Government’s drive to making data more widely available, making reporting more proportionate to the scale of the project, and standardising measures of success has much to recommend it.
At this stage, there are more questions than answers about the Government’s proposals.
What will happen to those subject areas typically within an EIA that are now proposed to fall outside of the ‘outcomes’ by which projects will be judged? How will those organisations that are to be responsible for the dynamic monitoring of outcomes be resourced? Will there be a pilot-project to test EOR before a wider roll-out?
It is too early to say whether the end of EIA could be something to be welcomed, or equally whether EOR will resemble its phonetic namesake Eeyore – a depressed, old grey stuffed donkey generally characterized as pessimistic and gloomy.
About Stephen Snowdon, Planning & Development Manager at Peel NRE
Steve is a Chartered Town Planner with post graduate qualifications in Town & Regional Planning and Civic Design. He has more than 25 years’ experience in property and renewables development, having worked in both public and private sectors.