New Water Abstraction Regulations
The European Union (Water Policy) (Abstractions Registration) Regulations 2018 (SI No. 261 of 2018) were published in July 2018 and give further statutory effect to Directive 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy.
The Regulations provide for the establishment of a register of abstractions of water of more than 25 cubic metres per day. The Regulations define water abstraction as “the doing of anything whereby water is removed or diverted by mechanical means, pipe, or any engineering structure or works from any part of the water environment, including anything whereby the water is so removed or diverted for the purpose of being transferred to another part of the water environment.”
The Regulations make it an offence to not register an abstraction of water of more than 25 cubic metres per day; to knowingly provide false information with regard to a relevant abstraction; or to fail to comply with a notice requiring specified information. They also include provisions as to what is to be included in the register and provide for the register to be amended as required. The Regulations require that existing abstractions are registered within four months from the regulations coming into effect on 16 July 2018. Thereafter, for new abstractions, there is a requirement to register within one month of the commencement of the abstraction.
The EPA have launched a register of water abstractions in accordance with these new Regulations. This water abstraction register aims to capture information and data on abstractions, which will be used in conjunction with information on discharges, flow and water level data, and water status to identify if there are any rivers, lakes or groundwater bodies that have unsustainable abstractions that require active management.
New Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations
The European Union (Planning and Development) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2018 (SI No. 296 of 2018) transpose into Irish law the provisions of Directive 2014/52/EU amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment by amending:
- The Planning and Development Act 2000;
- The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016,
- The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018;
- The Planning and Development Regulations 2001.
The Regulations came into operation on 1 September 2018.
The key amendments to environmental impact assessment procedures in the planning system include:
- Reduced administrative burdens, through the use of joint or coordinated procedures when Appropriate Assessment is required;
- The broadening of environmental factors to be considered in the assessment – population and human health, resource efficiency, climate change, biodiversity and disaster prevention;
- Strengthened screening procedures to determine whether EIA is required in respect of development consent proposals;
- Expansion of the information to be contained in the re-titled Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR);
- A requirement for the developer to employ or engage competent experts to prepare an EIAR and for planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to have, or have access to, sufficient expertise to examine such reports;
- Decisions of planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála on development proposals must include a reasoned conclusion on the significant effects of the project on the environment;
- Enhanced requirements for public access to information, including by electronic means;
- Requirements to put arrangements in place to avoid, prevent or reduce and, if possible, offset significant adverse effects of a proposed development on the environment, including monitoring of these, where appropriate.
To coincide with these Regulations, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has published updated planning guidelines for planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála on carrying out environmental impact assessments. The updated guidelines can be found here.