Two key new Bills with a focus on environmental protection, which will influence our assessment methodologies and planning submissions, are currently passing through parliament.
Part 6 of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill introduces Environmental Outcomes Reports (EORs). These are intended to replace EIAs/SEAs in many cases and will require developers to prepare a report on the environmental outcomes of projects of a certain type/scale (to be confirmed in subsequent regulations). The EOR would need to be submitted to the relevant local authority and made available to the public.
The intention is for statutory environmental assessment to follow a clearer path, with:
Alongside this, the Clear Air (Human Rights) Bill seeks to enshrine that the right to breathe clean in UK law. The Bill aims to reduce air pollution by introducing measures such as low-emission zones and promoting active travel. It also includes provisions to improve air quality monitoring and to increase public awareness of the health impacts of air pollution. This is likely to lead to great scrutiny of planning applications, with respect to air quality.
In summary these Bills, which have cross party support, are set to have a significant impact on planning applications, with greater clarity on (and likely tougher) assessment criteria, mitigation requirements, and an increased emphasis on post-construction monitoring.