Friday, December 04, 2009

Avonmouth imported biofuel power station plan: no environmental impact assessment conducted!!

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Been looking closely at the planning application to build a biofuel power station in Avonmouth. Seems to me that there are several flaws in the application itself let alone all the surrounding local impacts and global environmental justice and human rights issues previously outlined. Most notably there is no environmental impact statement – and no indication that any kind of environmental impact assessment procedure has been or will be conducted. Under the European Council Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment, 97/11/EC, an environmental impact assessment is mandatory for ‘Thermal power stations and other combustion installations…’ (EC EIA Directive Annex I projects).

To make matters worse, from a personal involvement viewpoint, I called the Bristol Council Case Officer dealing with this application on Monday of this week and left a message with detailed queries – and called again the following day, leaving my details on his answerphone, because although there was a promise of a return call it did not materialise. It’s the end of the week now and I’ve still not had my calls returned!! As a consequence I’ve been unable to ask why there is no environmental impact assessment and whether one will be conducted at some point soon. Yet this city claims its green credentials are good!!

The EIA Directive (EU legislation) on Environmental Impact Assessment of the effects of projects on the environment was introduced in 1985 and was amended in 1997. Member States have to transpose the amended EIA Directive by 14 March 1999 at the latest.

The EIA procedure ensures that environmental consequences of projects are identified and assessed before authorisation is given. The public can give its opinion and all results are taken into account in the authorisation procedure of the project. The public is informed of the decision afterwards.

The EIA Directive outlines which project categories shall be made subject to an EIA, which procedure shall be followed and the content of the assessment.

Following the signature of the Aarhus Convention by the Community on 25 June 1998, the Community adopted in May 2003 Directive 2003/35/EC amending amongst others the EIA Directive. This Directive intends to align the provisions on public participation in accordance with the Aarhus Convention on public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.