Spain has agreed to speed up environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures as part of a drive to cut administrative burden on businesses. Under draft legislation tabled on Friday, the duration of EIA procedures would be reduced from two years now to just four months. The European Commission has also proposed to simplify and shorten procedures at EU level.

Following a vote in the EP environment committee this month, shale gas, shale oil and coal-bed methane exploration projects should be subject to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). The vote upholds rapporteur Andrea Zanoni MEP’s view that the exploration, evaluation and extraction of the fuels be covered by the revised EIA Directive, which is currently being debated between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

During the Irish Presidency, member states will discuss changes to several EU laws including the environmental impact assessments (EIA) directive. Newsflash reader s will recall that the Commission proposed changes to the EIA directive last October, which could speed up the process of carrying out an EIA. From the European Commission’s proposal made on 26th October 2012, the revised text seeks to take into account several European Court of Justice rulings, including one clarifying that demolition works are covered by the law.

Securing a deal with MEPs on the Seventh environmental action plan (7EAP) is the top environmental priority for the Irish Presidency during its EU six-month term of office that started in 1st January 2013.

Citizens who have been negatively affected by a project built without an environmental impact assessment (EIA), could be due compensation according to a ruling by the EU court. The court was assessing a case brought forward by an Austrian woman who is living next to Vienna airport. She is seeking compensation for the decrease in value to her property caused by noise pollution that has increased as the airport has been expanded. Austria joined the EU in 1996 and is therefore required to submit an EIA to establish whether projects are likely to have significant effects on the environment.