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The Environment Agency and Planning

This is part of an occasional series on the planning process. In this case the post is on the Environment Agency (EA).  It is not compiled by an “expert” so should not be relied upon to be accurate. Though we hope it is!

Environment Agency OpenData logoWith any large development the Environment Agency will be consulted by the council. There are whole range of issues that they have responsibilities for. The EA is sometimes consulted regarding smaller developments as well.

Environment Agency Consultation Areas:

  • Flood Risk (see flood risk post to come later)
  • Ecological impact
  • Hydrological impact
  • Biodiversity

These consultations between the County Council and the Environment Agency are initially on an (almost) informal basis. Unfortunately, this informality has in the past led to problems. It has been suggested that within the country as a whole, some council officers have tried to use this informality to set the stage for the formal response.

Any of the fields that the EA is consulted on can present great difficulties to a developer if their opinion goes against the developer.

If you have concerns about a development you should always ensure the EA are made aware of site specific information. You can guarantee the developer will tell them nothing. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, the district/county council may stay silent as well. The EA is a National body. It has little local knowledge.

You should always contact the Environment Agency independently of the council. Never rely on the county council to pursue your issues. The council will have its own agenda. It may directly oppose yours. Especially if a large development is involved.

In the past the author has found the EA to be helpful and straight-forward. Their final opinion may or may not be in your favour. But they at least feel honest and open.

Most large development sites will eventually require Site Specific Assessments on most or all of the Environment Agency criteria. It is always a good idea to Provide the EA with local knowledge. Relevant local information  may get hidden or obfuscated otherwise.

Parish/Town councils are consulted on developments but have no veto. However it is always worth ensuring they are fully informed of any issues you may have as well. But always remember to contact the Environment Agency yourself.

Their website is http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/

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