Fairlie Coastal: A manifest Breach of EIA legislation

Fairlie Kayakers © Fairlie Coastal Trust

This blog post is shared from Coastal Communities Network member Fairlie Coastal Trust, who are fighting for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Hunterston PARC Oil-Rig Decommissioning Project.  Read on to understand why and find the petition here.

Fairlie Coastal  believe that EIA Legislation and due process has been corrupted and Hunterston PARC Oil-Rig Decommissioning Project must be realigned with the EIA Directive and transposed legislation.  The approach that Peelport Developers and Planning Authorities have taken, and continue to take, in relation to the scoping, screening, planning and consenting processes constitutes an ongoing and manifest breach of the EIA Directive.

This approach is contrary to the stern commitment from Government to uphold and correctly transpose European Law. This strategy is already having a significant environmental impact; fragmenting and polluting the nationally protected SSSI with direct impact to OSPAR listed habitats and European Protected Species.

Public Bodies and Planning Officers are failing their legislative duty to further the conservation of biodiversity through non-implementation of robust environmental screening processes, pursuing a paper chased mitigation strategy that is being purposively used as a surrogate for a full Schedule EIA investigation.

Summary Points

1.0  There has been a failure to apply ‘Wide Scope and Broad Purpose’ when considering both Town & Country Planning EIA and Marine Works EIA Schedule 1 Paragraph 8(b) project descriptions.

1.1  There has been additional failure to apply Town & Country Planning EIA and Marine Works EIA   Schedule 2 project descriptions.

1.2  The planning procedure has been purposively subdivided (salami-sliced) to avoid application of the EIA Directive. This restrictive process, using delegated powers, further deprives the community the opportunity to challenge decisions.

1.3  Demolition works must be considered under the EIA Directive; recent paper-chased screening procedures have been used to breach the purpose of the EIA Directive.

1.4  The developer and all authorities (NAC, SNH, SEPA, MS) have failed to fully identify the scale of environmental impacts during the EIA scoping and screening process.

1.5  The NAC Planners and Planning Committee have made environmental screening and other decisions without consulting their own Biodiversity Officer during any of the planning or screening procedures. Those charged with making decision are largely unaware of their statutory responsibilities with respect to enhancing and promoting biodiversity.

1.6  The desk-top environmental appraisal process and inadequate site visits have failed to identify OSPAR listed Priority Marine Features that are currently impacted by developer’s pollution, and are at significant environmental risk from further development.

1.7  The ‘negative’ screening opinion is contrary to the SNH Site Management Plan that acknowledges the risk of significant environmental impact from further coastal development.

1.8 Mitigation proposals during screening procedures were used to frustrate the purpose of the EIA, and serve as surrogate for it. It is contrary to the Directive to start from the premise that although there may be significant impacts, these can be reduced to insignificance by the application of various conditions.

1.9  The SSSI is misrepresented in the CMPP Clyde Assessment and within the marine spatial planning framework. The site is at risk of further fragmentation and being de-notified as the Clyde Marine Plan progresses.

1.10  Statutory Consultees CMPP were not informed of screening / planning / license procedures by fellow board members Peelport, NAC & SNH. This avoided environmental scrutiny and prevented CMPP from performing their Statutory duty to screen for marine related EIA. This is contrary to the ecosystems approach and ethos that underpins Clyde 2020 vision.

1.11  Peelports have exerted an overt influence over the terrestrial and marine planning procedure. This conflict of interest extends to membership of CMPP and links to the Clyde Harbour Authority.

1.12  The SNH screening opinion was made without site examination, realisation of environmental impacts, knowledge of marine ecosystems, and relied on the developer’s desk-top environmental appraisal. SNH’s failure to attend to environmental concerns, during the local authorities subjugated planning process, has led to increased environmental threats.

1.13  There has been manifest and material changes in the development proposal and environmental appraisal since the original screening opinion. Consequently, this must be re-considered under Schedule 2 Paragraph 13 (a/b) EIA.

1.14 The subjugation of Terrestrial and Marine Planning legislation has exacerbated the negative planning issues that are accepted to exist in Integrated Coast Zone Management. Idiosyncrasies in procedure between Terrestrial and Marine Planning are being exploited by developers and the local authority to circumvent the EIA Directive.

1.15  The Petroleum Act EIA legislation is being incorrectly offered by NAC local authority and planning committee as a surrogate for a mandatory Schedule 1 EIA. A Petroleum Act EIA will not be enforced to examine decommissioning, construction and operations at the Hunterston decommissioning port and is being used to frustrate a mandatory EIA by NAC.

1.16  There has been a lack of openness and transparency during the whole Hunterston process, frustrating the community’s ability to adequately challenge aspects of planning process and leading to a possible time bar on review or ministerial appeal.

1.17  Some FOI requested documents have been withheld or lost by the Authorities. We believe if these documents are related to Screening and the associated due process, they may be highly relevant to our concerns and should be released to us.

1.18  We are dissatisfied that public money has been awarded by the Decommissioning Challenge Fund to advance Hunterston PARC proposals without a stipulation that a full EIA must be conducted.

Read the full list of evidence on the blog post A manifest breach of Environmental Impact Assessment legislation at Fairlie Coastal Trust.

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