Environment Law Update: Planning aspects of environmental control 1

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Building regulations

The Building Regulations Division of the DETR has published proposals to review Part H (Drainage and Solid Waste) of the Building Regulations 1991. The proposals include draft guidance on sustainable urban drainage systems, water use and solid waste storage. Information on more sustainable forms of urban rain water drainage systems are included, as is extra guidance on outlets for sceptic tanks and guidance on solid waste storage to encourage recycling. By amending the Building Regulations, it is hoped that all those involved with the provision of drainage for buildings will be better informed to make decisions on the system of drainage to be used. The document also contains a recommendation that grease separators be fitted to the drainage systems of buildings used for commercial hot food preparation to reduce the number of blockages on public sewers caused by fat/grease deposits.
(DETR, July 2000)

Environmental Appraisal Task Force

The Foresight Environmental Appraisal Task Force has published a consultation document, "Making Sustainability Count". The Foresight Programme was launched in 1993 following the White Paper on Science, Engineering and Technology, "Realising Our Potential". It has a panel-based structure and operates on a 5-year cycle with the current round running to April 2004. The Environmental Appraisal Task Force was established by the Foresight Panel on Energy and Natural Environment and has been looking at three priority areas at the leading edge of environmental appraisal. The consultation document explores these priority areas and tries to identify the future challenges for strategic environmental assessments. The Task Force will use the feedback from this consultation to establish a strategy providing clear priorities.
(DTI, August 2000)

Ministry of Defence

The MoD has published the results of the largest and most wide-ranging environmental appraisal ever conducted by a Government Department in this country. The "Strategic Environmental Appraisal" investigated the potential environmental impact of some 454 projects arising from the Strategic Defence Review, taking account of wider issues including sustainability, social and economic factors. The Appraisal has apparently established that 340 projects are unlikely to have any significant impact on the environment, with the remaining projects needing to take the environment into account during project development.
(MoD News Release, 27 July 2000)

Telecommunications planning

Nick Raynsford, the Planning Minister has published a consultation paper on Revised Planning Policy Guidance for Telecommunications Development (PPG 8). The consultation forms part of the Government's response to the report of the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (the "Stewart" Report). The consultation seeks views on the proposed changes to the control of development under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to require full planning permission for all new telecommunications masts. The Government is hoping to introduce any revised procedures and guidance as soon as possible as under current legislation, certain telecommunications apparatus is permitted to be installed without the need to make a planning application to the local planning authority. Comments are invited until 31 October 2000.
(DETR News Release, 31 July 2000)

A forthcoming consultation exercise for Scotland will look at proposals to require telecommunication operators to gain planning permission for all ground-based masts in future and not just for those over 15 metres. The current prior approval system requires that operators outline their proposals in writing to the local authority, which may only intervene on matters of siting and appearance. There has been concern that residents affected by mobile phone mast schemes currently have no formal powers of objection. The consultation exercise has been prepared in the light of the recent "Stewart" report on mobile phones which encouraged a "precautionary approach".
(Planning, 1 September 2000)

Outdoor advertisement control

The Government published its conclusions following the consultation on outdoor advertisement control. Among the changes now proposed are plans to add a new condition to limit the size of poster displays permitted with deemed consent to 1.42 square meters in area. This includes advertisements on the forecourt of business premises. Other amendments have been made to controls over the illumination of advertisements, the type and location of advertisements that require consent and changes to advertisements which do not require consent.
(DETR, July 2000)

Environmental impact assessment

The Electricity and Pipe-line Works (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1990 (as amended) have been revoked by the Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000 No 1927) which came into force on 1 September 2000. The new Regulations remake the provisions of the earlier Regulations and make the necessary amendments to implement EC Directive 97/11/EC on the assessment of certain public and private projects on the environment. The main changes made by this Directive which are relevant to these Regulations are: for certain overhead electrical power lines, environmental impact assessments are mandatory; advice on the content of an environmental statement must be given to any developer who requests it; the Secretary of State must give reasons for his decision on granting or refusing development consent for a development for which an environmental impact assessment is required and there are detailed procedures established for consulting other European Economic Area States on projects which are likely to have significant environmental effects.
(SO, July 2000)

European Union

Environmental impact assessment

The draft Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive (SEA) has had its second reading in Parliament where the Environment Committee voted for an amendment to widen the scope of the proposed Directive to include EU-financed projects. The scope of the Directive is the area causing most controversy with governments being unable to agree. The SEA Directive aims to put the environment at the heart of planning requiring environmental impact assessments of any plans and programmes required by law or those that are prepared or adopted by public authorities which include public schemes and excludes private ones. After the second reading, however, the Environment Committee is demanding that the Directive apply to any plan or programme that may have "significant environmental effects".
(European Commission, July 2000)