European Commission refers Ireland to Court over incomplete environmental impact assessment laws

The aim of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA Directive) is to ensure that projects which are likely to have a significant effect on the environment are adequately assessed before they are approved.

  • To identify and assess possible impacts on the environment before any decision is taken to allow the project to proceed.
  • To allow for adjustments and mitigation measures to be made to projects to minimise negative impacts before the impacts actually occur.

Legislation on environmental impact assessments in Ireland still contains shortcomings.

  • Despite an earlier referral to the Court and a subsequent Court ruling in March 2011 Ireland has not yet ensured the full transposition of the EIA Directive into national law.
  • Concerns remain regarding the complete transposition of Article 3 of the Directive, avoiding any negative consequences of split decision making between Irish planning authorities and the Irish Environment Protection Agency, and the exclusion of demolition works.
  • Ireland generally accepts the Court’s findings and stated its intention to adopt all the necessary legislation to implement the Court’s judgment by the end of May 2012.
  • The necessary legislation has not yet been adopted, so the Commission is referring the case back to the Court.