EU Exit: marine environmental legislation in Scotland

Explains the changes made to marine legislation to ensure that the law remains operable and effective from 1 January 2021

Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations

Amendments have been made to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations relevant to Scotland's inshore and offshore waters, so that they continue to be effective and maintain the same standards of protection now that the UK is no longer part of the EU. The amendments are minor and technical in nature - the legislation continues to operate as it did before exit day.

Further information

EIA is a means of drawing together, in a systematic way, an assessment of the likely significant effects arising from a proposed development. The EU EIA Directive[19] applies to a wide range of public and private projects. Projects listed in Annex I to the Directive require an EIA. Projects listed in Annex II may require an EIA, depending on their size, nature and location. The decision on whether an EIA is required is made through the "screening procedure", where regulators and advisors determine the effects of projects on the basis of thresholds and criteria, or a case-by-case examination.

The EIA Directive is implemented through various statutory instruments, covering different sectors. The legislation relevant to Scotland's inshore and offshore waters:

  • the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017[20] (which apply to inshore waters);
  • the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007[21] (which apply to offshore waters);
  • the Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017[22] - for section 36 consents relating to offshore renewable energy developments;
  • the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.[23]

Consent may be required under more than one regime. The Scottish Ministers continue to issue licences and consents for activities in Scottish inshore and offshore waters through MS-LOT.

Amendments were made to ensure that the Marine Works and Electricity Works EIA Regulations in Scotland continue to work in the same way in Scotland's inshore and offshore waters.[24] [25] The UK Government has also made equivalent changes to the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007.[26]

The amendments made are minor and technical in nature, for example references to European Economic Area (EEA) states are corrected to exclude the UK. Certain references to the Nature Directives are now to be read differently so that they continue to make sense now that the UK is not a Member State. For example, references to 'Member States' are to be read as if this included the UK.

The policies and procedures under the EIA Regulations remain unchanged.



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