The Commission is consulting on its report to the Council and Parliament on the application and effectiveness of the EIA Directive (click here for a link to the consultation). There are no specific proposals, but the report contains a number of broad hints about future changes.

Areas highlighted for potential change include ensuring that member states do not exceed their margin for discretion in the screening procedure, particularly in respect of the cumulative effects of development. (Our own transposition on this point is currently subject to change as a result of a CLG consultation).

The Commission targets the quality of EIAs and in particular the information on which EIA documentation is based. It also considers whether there ought to be a legal obligation to require the consideration of alternatives - at present the obligation is only to report on any which might have been considered.

The Commission tackles the overlap of EIA at SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) and although it considers that the two should not necessarily be merged, it has asked for comments. It considers whether there ought to be one overall assessment regime for projects that engage the Habitats and Birds Directive. It also raises the spectre of EIA in relation to other types of project permitting - IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) is specifically mentioned at paragraph 3.5.2 of the report.

Helpfully, the report is a relatively short read. If nothing else, it is interesting to review the Commission's summary of the benefits of the Directive.

The consultation is open until 24 September.