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New EIA Directive

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (85/337/EEC) has been in force since 1985 and applies to a wide range of public and private projects, as defined in Annexes I and II of the Directive. The 1985 EIA Directive was amended three times and has now been revised by Directive 2014/52/EU. The revised EIA Directive needs to be transposed by all Member States, including Malta, by 16 May 2017 at the latest. Malta also needs to communicate to the Commission the national legislation adopted in order to comply with the Directive.

According to the Commission, the main amendments to the Directive include the simplification of different environmental assessment procedures, inclusion of timeframes for the different stages of environmental assessments and ensuring that final decisions are taken within a “reasonable period of time”. The screening procedure, determining whether an EIA is required, is simplified and updated screening criteria are presented. EIA reports are to be made more understandable for the public, especially as regards assessments of the current state of the environment and alternatives to the proposal in question. The grounds for development consent decisions must be clear and more transparent for the public. Member States may also set timeframes for the validity of any reasoned conclusions or opinions issued as part of the EIA procedure. If projects do entail significant adverse effects on the environment, developers will be obliged to do the necessary to avoid, prevent or reduce such effects. These projects will need to be monitored using procedures determined by the Member States. Existing monitoring arrangements may be used to avoid duplication of monitoring and unnecessary costs.

Malta is already preparing to transpose the amended Directive into national legislation. Draft EIA Regulations were presented by the Environment & Resources Authority in 2016 and public consultation on the draft regulations undertaken:

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