Planning authorities to be given powers to force developers to repeat Environmental Impact Assessments – at a cost of up to £50,000 each time

New regulations that give planning authorities the power to force developers to carry out costly Environmental Impact Assessments they have already undertaken will come as a blow to developers battling the credit crunch, warns commercial law firm Wedlake Bell.

Wedlake Bell says that the new regulations, which come into force on September 1 under the Town and Country Planning Regulations, will be seen by developers as an unwelcome layer of extra red tape.

Under the existing regulations an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed before development consent can be given for projects likely to impact on the environment. Currently an EIA is only required at the initial planning stages of a project but the new regulations will mean that developers may now be forced to repeat the EIA when seeking full planning permission.

Simon Freeman, Head of Wedlake Bell’s Commercial Property Team, comments: “The Government admits that it will cost developers up to £50,000 each time they are required to carry out an additional EIA. Developers are already feeling the pinch caused by the credit crunch so as far as they are concerned these regulations could not have come at a worse time.”

Wedlake Bell says that the regulations will affect developers who have been granted “outline planning permission”. Outline planning permission is granted before matters such as the layout and landscaping have been finalised.

According to Wedlake Bell planning authorities will now be able to demand that an additional EIA be carried out before they grant full planning permission should they feel more information is needed to satisfy the EIA Directive. Developers who have been granted outline planning permission without an EIA may also be forced to submit one if the planning authority considered that one is now needed.