Public Consultation - Guidance for Planning Authorities on the Drainage and Reclamation of Wetlands – September 2011
The Planning and Development (Amendment)(No.2) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No.454 of 2011) (pdf, 124kb) and the European Communities [Amendment to Planning and Development] Regulations 2011 (S.I. No.464 of 2011) (pdf, 102kb) are required to deal primarily with an European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment in Case C-66/06, which was delivered on 20 November 2008, and introduce a number of amendments to address the ECJ findings in this case. The Court found that Ireland’s system of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening for certain categories of agriculture related projects was over-reliant on size thresholds and did not take other relevant criteria (e.g. cumulative impacts of development, location relative to sensitive sites etc.) into account. The ECJ decision necessitated a major reduction in the thresholds, both for the mandatory carrying out of EIA and for screening for EIA for projects under the mandatory thresholds.
To support consistent and full implementation of the new regulations, specific guidance has been prepared. Guidance for Planning Authorities on the Drainage and Reclamation of Wetlands (doc, 61kb) is being issued as a consultation draft, with a view to considering observations and submissions from all stakeholders and interested parties before finalising them and issuing them as statutory guidance under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act.
Submissions/observations on the draft guidance document are invited, and should be made in writing or by e-mail, to the address given below not later than Friday 21st October 2011.
NOTE: Certain activities covered by the judgment, such as the re-structuring of fields and removal of hedgerows and boundaries, the use of uncultivated land or semi-natural areas for intensive agriculture and normal field drainage works have been transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as part of its wider management responsibilities for overseeing agricultural activities and integrating environmental considerations into relevant schemes. The Minister for AFF signed, on 8 September, new European Communities (Agricultural Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 which provide for a new system of screening for environmental impact above certain thresholds for different types of agricultural activity, and the requirement for the Minister’s consent to be sought and mandatory EIA to be carried out on such projects at a higher threshold level.