Taking stock of environmental assessment

The 1985 EC Directive on environmental assessment of major projects has been in force for five years. A long-delayed report on its initial impact has revealed large variations in the implementing laws and the numbers of projects subject to assessment among Member States, as well as major defects in the quality of many environmental statements. The European Commission is set to respond with a proposal to amend the Directive, but both its current ideas and changes in its procedures for handling public complaints about the application of the Directive are running into resistance from the UK.

A good deal of water has flowed under the bridge since the ballyhoo created in October 1991 when the then EC Environment Commissioner, Carlo Ripa di Meana, went public with allegations that the UK had committed a series of infringements of the 1985 EC Directive on environmental assessment of major projects (ENDS Report 201, pp 14-17).

Sr di Meana, for one thing, is no longer in his job. The insensitive timing of his initiative, which help

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