The High Court has again been called to consider the test under the EIA Directive of whether a project is "likely to have significant effects on the environment". A judicial review was brought by an individual against the Secretary of State's screening opinion that a proposed development did not require EIA. The development in question was the re-development of a bowls club to include sheltered accommodation and new bowling/leisure facilities.
The claimant contended that the correct test for the Secretary of State to apply was whether any effect "is one that is of sufficient importance that it ought to be considered and have an influence on the development consent decision".
The court, however, disagreed stating that such an interpretation of the test would set the threshold for EIA being required at a low level, resulting in EIA being necessary for virtually all developments that have any effect on the environment. This was not intended by the guidance nor by the EIA Directive.
The court also reaffirmed that it would not be right for a single defined test of "likely significant effects" to be applied across all cases. Instead, the court held the test of "significant effects on the environment" requires a fact-sensitive judgment to be made by experts on a case-by-case basis.
Loader v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2011)