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European court ruling begins to make an impact

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A landmark European court ruling on environmental impact reports has started to bite, following the announcement that authorities must apply the judgement to reserved matters.

Earlier this year, the European Court of Justice held that British government had violated EU laws by not requiring developers to carry out a full environmental impact study on the aborted Crystal Palace cinema scheme www.ajplus.co.uk

).

As a result, it was feared that councils would start demanding reports throughout the building process, and not just at the outline planning permission stage.

Now, it seems that the decision has officially filtered down to reserved matter consents after new guidance was published by the government, urging planning authorities to 're-screen' cases where the issues did 'not fall within the remit of [an] outline consent.'

Planning expert Brian Waters believes that the move will create more work for both the architects and the planners. He said: 'The judgment, the resulting guidance and uncertainty add to the likelihood that local planning authorities will be ultra-cautious when asked to decide whether they think an IEA is called for. They will tend, even more than ever, to demand one even where it may not be needed.'

He added: 'The fact that this rigmarole is to be repeated for reserved matters just adds to the burden for applicants as well as authorities.'

by Richard Waite

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