Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Second Report


Memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


  1. The Committee has requested a memorandum on the following points:

(1) Explain, having regard to the definition in regulation 2(1), who is under the obligation to make the "environmental impact assessment" and identify the source of the obligation.

  2. No person is under an obligation to make the environmental impact assessment, but the Health and Safety Executive cannot grant a consent unless one has been made (see regulation 8(3)). The environmental impact assessment is the overall process which will be performed before a consent will be granted for a project. In practice there is no one body with the expertise to assess each impact on the environment arising from a project. The licensee is required to prepare an environmental statement containing the material matters referred to in Schedule 1 (regulation 5). This includes a description of the likely effects of the project on the environment and the data required to identify and assess those effects. This information is provided to the consultation bodies who are required to respond to the Health and Safety Executive (regulation 8(2)). The environmental statement is available to the public who may also make representations to the Health and Safety Executive (regulation 9(1)). The Health and Safety Executive is the body ultimately responsible for ensuring that the appropriate assessment or assessments have been made and may not grant a consent unless it is so satisfied (regulation 8(3)).

(2) Regulation 4 forbids (with a criminal sanction) a nuclear site licensee from beginning decommissioning unless (a) he has applied to the Health and Safety Executive for a consent, and (b) the Executive has granted a consent "in accordance with regulation 8(3)". In the case of a licensee who holds a consent of the Executive, explain whether it is intended that the licensee will be liable for the offence where the Executive has not taken into account the matters specified in regulation 8(3)(b) and (c).

  3. The Committee is correct in asserting that a procedural error under regulation 8(3) may place the licensee inadvertently in breach of regulation 4. This was not the intention. The words "in accordance with regulation 8(3)" were inserted to make clear that the consent referred to was to be given pursuant to these Regulations rather than pursuant to a nuclear site licence. The Department now considers that the offending words are not necessary and will amend regulation 4 in a convenient instrument which is due to be made next year.

(3) In regulation 12(6), explain the reference to consultation in accordance with paragraph (3). Is paragraph (5) the intended provision?

  4. The Committee is correct that in regulation 12(6) the reference to paragraph (3) should be to paragraph (5). The Department suggests that the error is clear and that the true meaning may be ascertained from the context of paragraphs (5) and (6) of regulation 12. The opportunity will, however, be taken to correct the error at the same time as amending regulation 4.

15th November 1999

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