Support to develop guidance for streamlining environmental assessment procedures of energy infrastructure ‘projects of common interest’
Client: DG ENV
Delays in permitting procedures, often caused by requirements for environmental assessment and public participation, have been identified as a key bottleneck for implementation of the investments in energy infrastructure required for the EU to meet its strategic energy goals, including inclusion of renewable energy sources into the power sector.
The Trans-European Energy Network for Energy (TEN-E) Guidelines regulation for 2014-2020 aims at overcoming this bottleneck through specific requirements on the permitting process for so-called energy infrastructure ‘projects of common interest’.
One such requirement is that Member States assess their mechanisms for carrying out the environmental assessment procedures stemming from EU environmental legislation and determine whether measures should be taken for more effective coordination of the various procedures.
The regulation required the European Commission to develop guidance to support the Member States in identifying measures to streamline environmental assessment procedures for priority energy infrastructure projects. Through this project, Milieu supported the Commission to prepare the required guidance.
The Milieu team carried out a review of the key EU environmental legislation to be taken into account during the permitting process for large infrastructure projects, namely the EIA, SEA, Habitats & Birds, Water Framework, Seveso and IPPC/IED Directives in the 27 EU Member States and Croatia.
The review considered how the EU legislation was transposed in each country, including the designation of competent authorities, public participation requirements and the impact it would have on the permitting procedures for large infrastructure projects.
The review also assessed practical measures taken in the Member States to effectively carry out the environmental assessments and other obligations stemming from this legislation in a coordinated, timely fashion with regard to large infrastructure projects.
Based on the review, Milieu prepared a study analysing the ways in which the requirements of the TEN-E regulation will interact with the requirements of the EU environmental legislation, with a focus on requirements for EIA, SEA and the Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Directive.
Based on existing good practice in the EU Member States and other practical guides and literature, as well as input from a panel of external peers, Milieu developed recommendations for Member States to consider when carrying out the environmental assessment procedures for the large energy infrastructure projects to be supported under the EU TEN-E programme.
Recommendations were aimed at speeding up the permitting process whilst maintaining the high standard of environmental protection required by the EU legislation.
The study served as the basis for the European Commission’s guidance on streamlining environmental assessment procedures for TEN-E priority projects.