Date Published 12 December 2012
Environmental impact assessment (EIA) proposals emerging from Brussels threaten to frustrate UK property development and investment, the British Property Federation has warned.
The new EIA proposals are designed to speed up the process in which the environmental, social and economic impacts of development are assessed before being given the go ahead.
But the BPF fears the proposals may actually slow down development, and in some cases deter investors from investing in property altogether due to the additional cost and regulatory burden of complying with the Directive.
Of particular concern are three proposals which have crept into the Directive since the initial consultation:
* Mandatory screening - while the drafting is unclear, there are fears that any planning application or permitted development would require a screening exercise to determine whether an EIA is even required. This will add an immense burden to the applicant, particularly smaller and individual developers, and also to local authorities;
* Reasonable alternatives - although this already takes place in some cases, it is simply not possible for endless alternatives of location and design to be examined. Again this would involve all parties wasting an immense amount of time and money, with very little benefit;
* Ongoing monitoring - of most concern are proposals that would see measures to monitor the environmental effects after the project is complete for an unspecified amount of time. This will, understandably, deter investors, occupiers and buyers from any situation in which the property does not stay with the initial owner.
Liz Peace, chief executive of the BPF, said: "Despite the best stated intentions to speed up the environmental impact assessment process, there`s a real chance these proposals will in fact have the reverse effect, while piling on additional cost and uncertainty.
"It remains to be seen how the UK Government will respond to these proposals, but the last thing the property industry needs is another regulatory shock from a badly designed piece of legislation."