Airport expansions may need fresh impact assessments

Large-scale airport expansions will need full environmental impact assessments on the same scale as the original development, while smaller refurbs may escape a second assessment.

The Advocate General of the European Court has delivered an opinion on the extent to which EIA applies to the refurbishment of an existing airport, where the issue was not the works themselves, but their consequences (i.e. more flights, and more intensive use by air freight companies).

In other words, when do modifications to the infrastructure of an airport require an EIA, and should an increase in air traffic be taken into consideration?

The ECJ Opinion concludes that modifications to the infrastructure of an airport (which result in increased activities) CAN have an environmental impact on the environment, for the purposes of the EIA directive, and will require an EIA.

If they are equivalent to the construction of a new airport in terms of their effects on the environment. If the effects are NOT equivalent, they must be assessed with regard to their effect on the environment if they are likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of their nature size or local factors.

They also concluded that a contract between a public authority and a private undertaking is not in itself a “project” within the meaning of the Directive, although it could be if it happened to be the first stage in a consent procedure carried out in several stages.

Opinion: C-2/07 may be accessed via the website of the ECJ at the following link:

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