Spain loses leisure centre planning case

Spain lost its wrangle with the European Commission over a planned leisure centre project in Paterna for failing to assess its environmental impact

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) gave judgement in the case of Commission v Spain (Case C-332/04) on 16 March 2006. The case concerned an application by the European Commission for a declaration of the Court to the effect that by incompletely transposing Article 3 of the EIA Directive (Directive 85/337/EEC), as amended by Directive 97/11/EC, by failing to transpose Article 9(1) of the EIA Directive, by infringing the transitional rules laid down by Article 3 of Directive 97/11/EC, by failing correctly to transpose point 10(b) of Annex II to the EIA Directive, as amended, in conjunction with Article 2(1) and Article 4(2), and by failing to subject to the impact assessment procedure the plans for the construction of a leisure centre at Paterna (Valencia) and, consequently, by failing to apply Articles 2(1), 3, 4(2), 8 and 9 of Directive 85/337/EEC, as amended, Spain had failed to fulfil its obligations under those directives.

The final plea, regarding Annex II to the EIA Directive arose since the Spanish legislation qualified point 10(b) of Annex II (requiring EIA to be carried out for urban-development projects, including the construction of shopping centres and parking facilities) by applying this only to projects outside urban areas. This therefore reduced the scope of the Directive which went beyond the degree of latitude available to the Member States under Articles 2(1) and 4(2) of the EIA Directive. Due to this inadequacy within the national legislation, the Spanish authorities did not carry out an environmental impact assessment for a leisure centre at Paterna (Valencia), with the only explanation for not requiring an EIA to be carried out being that the leisure centre was to be constructed in an urban area.

Spain was held to be in breach of all of the above breaches of the EIA Directive and Directive 97/11/EC. The full text of the case can be found in French and Spanish at the following link: click here

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