You are on page 1of 20

Environmental Impact Assessment Review 23 (2003) 605 624 www.elsevier.


Divergent practice in a converging system? The case of EIA in France and the UK
John Glassona,*, Caroline Bellangerb,1

Impacts Assessment Unit (IAU), Oxford School of Planning, Oxford Brookes University, Headington, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK b West Oxfordshire District Council, Witney, Oxfordshire, UK

Received 1 November 2002; received in revised form 1 March 2003; accepted 1 April 2003

Abstract This paper seeks to clarify the harmonisation objective of the European Union (EU) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directives and to highlight some of the implicit tensions and differing interpretations. It first provides an overview of Member States (MSs) practice in EIA, in the context of the harmonisation objective, before focusing on the particular cases of the UK and France. The latter include studies of the legal context and practice of EIA. There are significant variations in legal harmonisation and in the spirit of legislation and guidance, nor does the existence of common legal requirements necessarily equate with harmonised practice. There are considerable variations in UK and French practice, reflecting a number of underlying factorsincluding attitude to the environment, institutional factors and the nature and perceptions of practitioners. Yet, while practice may be divergent, it may not be diverging, and recent actions such as the amended Directive are designed to encourage more convergence. D 2003 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Environment impact assessment; France; Legislation and practice; UK and EU comparison

1. Introduction Harmonisation is fundamental to the development of integration in the European Union (EU). The concept broadly refers to the adoption of legislation

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +44-1865-483401; fax: +44-1865-483559. E-mail address: (J. Glasson). 1 Formerly IAU, now EU Leader Project. 0195-9255/03/$ see front matter D 2003 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/S0195-9255(03)00092-1


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

by EU institutions which gradually modifies national laws, regulations or administrative actions in the Member States (MSs) in order to obtain a degree of homogeneity and to contribute to the better functioning of the common market (Moussis, 1995). The EU has been particularly active in the field of environmental policy, and while not all its actions would be regarded as fully implemented and effective, there has been some agreement that the EU action in the area of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been a force for good and has been reasonably well adopted by most MSs. However, harmonisation is a flexible concept. Dashwood (1981) points out that: (harmonisation) can never be an end in itself but only a means to a certain end, namely the adjustment of national rules of law to the requirements of the common market at a given stage of its development. As such, the levels of harmonisation may change over time depending on the objectives of the European institutions and the MSs agendas. Sections in the 1956 defining treaty (Bainbridge and Teasdale, 1996) actually refer to approximation instead, acknowledging that total harmonisation may not be achievable. There is a recognition that each MS has specific national characteristics which are dictated by, inter alia, history, legal and administrative framework and social dynamics. Moreover, MSs are sovereign in a number of areas where the power of the EU is limited by the principle of subsidiarity. In areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Community shall take action (. . .) only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the MSs and can therefore, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the Community (1956, Article 3b). The EU has been torn on many occasions between attending to that principle and speeding up the integration process. It has fluctuated between hard harmonisation (i.e. total uniformity) and soft harmonisation (i.e. flexible and pragmatic uniformity) (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), 1995; Wallace and Wallace, 1996). This shows in the use made of directives. As an instrument of legislation, a directive is, in theory, only binding in its principles and aims which must be transposed into national legislation through instruments chosen by the MSs. Directives were originally used to set up a mandatory framework for European policies but with the scope and method of implementation left to each MS. This aimed to secure enough flexibility to incorporate national characteristics. Over time, directives have become more detailed, leaving less space for national interpretations. Recent directives seem to have been a mixture of flexibility and uniformity: they have established general principles as well as specified certain detailed procedures necessary to achieve them. Additional to the issues of the degree of legal harmonisation between MSs with regard to the implementation of a particular directive, there is the issue of practical harmonisation. Enforcement depends on practitioners in MSs, from

J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624


both the public and private sectors, who tend to have their own national cultures/ approaches. Consequently, the presumption that legal harmonisation generates practical harmonisation remains debatable. This paper seeks to explore the changing degree of harmonisation between MSs, and particularly France and the UK, with regard to the implementation of the EC/EU EIA Directive. The focus is on the original Directive 85/337/EEC (Commission of the European Communities (CEC), 1985) but with some reference to the amended Directive 97/11/EC (Council of the European Union (CEU), 1997). Following an overview of MSs activity in general, the paper concentrates on the case of France, with some comparative reference to the UK case as appropriate. Despite some common history, France and the UK are very different culturally, politically and administratively. They might even be classified as extremes in the EU. One has a constitution, the other relies on common law; one is extremely centralised, the other delegates (to some extent) to its local authorities. Such elements help to define the national characteristics and illustrate the obstacles which have to be overcome to achieve harmonisation. Both are exEmpires and still have considerable spheres of influence whether cultural, economic or political. France, more so than the UK, appears to be fighting over the extent of this influence, even in the field of EIA. It seems to have excluded itself from the debate in that area because of the perceived Anglo-Saxon domination and has more recently started to develop links with other Francophone countries, particularly in Africa, in an attempt to build a new sphere of influence in EIA. Both countries also had considerable involvement in the long drawn out gestation of the EC EIA Directive in the 1970s/1980s. When the Commission proposed the idea of the Directive, France already had an operational EIA system. It did not want to change its legislation and saw an opportunity to establish its influence within the then EC. It thus put its own experience as a model for the Directive (Sheate, 1984). The UK, on the other hand, did not have a mandatory system but was already using a form of environmental appraisal. The Directives flexibility suited the UK planning system, and there was opposition to the rigidity of the French system. Disagreements remained between the two countries even after the Directive was ratified. The first stage in the research, discussed in Section 2, was the provision of an overview of the extent of legal harmonisation with regard to the implementation of the original EIA Directive, across all MSs. This drew on the findings from a 1997 survey of experts across the MSs, supplemented as appropriate by the findings from a number of published comparative studies and web-based resources. The second more detailed stage in 1998 involved in-depth comparative studies of the France and UK case studies. These comprised a structured survey of key actors in EIA (developers, consultants, local authorities, statutory consultees and environmental pressure groups) in both countries, interviews with EIA experts and full reviews of a comparative selection of EISs. The targeted sample survey populations were derived from relevant databases in the two countries. For example, for the consultants, the research used the ENDS


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

Directory for the UK (Environmental Data Services (ENDS), 1997/1998) and a similar publication for France (Conchou and Patin, 1994) supplemented with two cision Environnement, 1995). The set of local other reports (Kompass, 1996; De authorities for each country provided the framework from which a sample was drawn, reflecting population and levels of economic activity. For example, for the UK, Clokes (1979) index of rurality was adapted to provide two sets of urban and rural counties; similarly, Noins classification of departments by degree of urban integration was adapted to provide the French equivalents (Noin, 1994). All the main UK statutory consultees were included; for France, a subset was drawn from the much larger set of equivalent bodies. A similar number of key pressure groups was included for both countries. In total, the survey population included 75 UK contacts and 112 French contacts. The latter had to be larger relative to the UK survey to secure a meaningful response as lower response rates were anticipated. The outcomes, following a pilot study, were 56% (UK) and 40% (France) responses, which were reduced somewhat further in terms of useful responses. This survey data was reinforced with interviews with a cross section of eight EIA actors in each country and detailed reviews of a structured set of EISs. It includes mainly infrastructure projects, chosen to provide sector themes and an element of consistency. The very identification of relevant cases illustrated the very different approaches to EIA/EIS data in the two countries. In the UK, the task is simplified by the existence of sources such as the directories assembled by EIA Centres in universities (e.g. Impact Assessment Unit (IAU), 1998). Yet in France, a country which produces over 6000 EISs per annum, there is no similar form of cataloguing.

2. Harmonisation across EU Member Statesconflicting evidence? The early steps towards the institutionalisation of the EC EIA Directive were through the introduction of the idea in the various EC Environmental Action Programmes (EAPs). For example, the first EAP (Official Journal of the European Communities (OJEC), 1973) established that EIA was necessary to integrate the environment at the earliest possible stage in decision making. The third EAP (OJEC, 1983) acknowledged the implementation of EIA in the European legislation and stated that environmental impact assessment is the prime instrument for ensuring that environmental data is taken into account in the decision making. However, as noted by Sheate (1984), the main problem in the evolution of the Directive was the underestimation by the EC of the enormity of the effort required to harmonise so many different national systems. This was all the more so because the Directive deals with development control and with (landuse) planning, which remain national prerogatives. In addition, the Directive was signed before environmental protection was formally recognised as a duty of the EC; it was consequently difficult to link EIA too strongly with environmental protection. As such, the Directive was gradually robbed of its initial strengths to

J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624


accommodate a diversity of already existing systems. However, subsequent legislation, from the Maastricht Treaty on European Union (1993) to the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), and the Cardiff Summit (1998) have provided a firmer constitutional basis for EC/EU environmental policy and action, and for the subsequent strengthening of EIA legislation. Directive 85/337/EC was to be operational in the MSs by July 1988 through the enacting of their own regulations by the individual countries. The Directive included a requirement for a 5-year review, and a report was published in 1993 (CEC, 1993). While there was general satisfaction that the basics of the EIA are mostly in place, there was concern in this report and others (see updated EC review of Jansen, 1997; Wood et al., 1996) about the incomplete coverage of certain projects, insufficient consultation and public participation, the lack of information about alternatives, weak monitoring and the lack of consistency in MSs implementation (for example, with regard to criteria/thresholds triggering EIA for discretionary project cases). Some countries, including France, the Netherlands and the UK, implemented the Directive relatively on time; others (e.g. Belgium, Portugal) did not. The legal implementation of the Directive by the MSs differed considerably. For some, the regulations came under the broad remit of nature conservation (e.g. France, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal); for some, they came under the planning system (e.g. Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, the UK); in others, specific EIA legislation was enacted (e.g. in Belgium, Italy). In addition, in Belgium, and to an extent in Germany and Spain, the responsibility for EIA was devolved to the regional level. Table 1 draws on MSs documentation and on the findings from a survey of experts across MSs in 1998 (before the introduction of the amended Directive); it focuses on those elements of EIA made mandatory by the Directive and which must be transposed into national legislation. These represent the basis for harmonisationdefining the projects requiring EIA, the content of the EIS and certain aspects of integration into decision making. The findings indicate some limitations even for legal harmonisation of such minimum requirements. For example, Austria and Sweden, benefiting from temporary exemption as new Members, had not fully implemented Annex 1; much of the transposition of Annex 2 was also judged incomplete for several MSs. Most countries have also made some, generally limited, use of the possibility to exempt some projects. These are usually defence projects, although in France, they also include nuclear power stations (which for historical reasons are seen as a matter of national security). There are also some variations in the specification of impacts and in the information to be provided in the EIS. With regard to the latter, while the initial state of the environment, mitigation and nontechnical summary were generally well covered, several countries had gaps in their coverage of difficulties encountered, alternatives, differentiation between project construction and operation stages and description of forecasting methods. Another perspective on harmonisation is to focus on the spirit of the national legislation and associated guidance. This can be identified in several waysfor


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

Table 1 Implementation of European minimum requirements in the Member States Numbers of MSs Yes (a) EIA applies to projects which are: (I) public (II) private Projects listed: (I) equivalent to Annex I of Directive (II) equivalent to Annex II of Directive (III) possibilities of exemptions within the EU requirements Impacts: (I) direct (II) indirect (III) human beings (IV) flora (V) fauna (VI) soil (VII) water (VIII) air (IX) climate (X) landscape (XI) cultural heritage (XII) material assets Information to be provided: (I) description of the project physical characteristics of the project (site, design, size) land requirements differentiation between construction and operation description of production processes residues and emissions (II) certain alternatives (those studied, zero option. . .) (III) initial state of the environment (IV) forecasting methods (V) mitigation (VI) nontechnical summary (VII) Difficulties encountered Consultation: (I) with statutory consultees (II) public (III) before the project is initiated Decision: (I) the developer is responsible for the EIS (II) the information must be taken into account (III) the decision must be published 15 15 13 8 12 14 14 12 14 14 12 13 13 13 13 13 12 2 7 1 No Varies ?


2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1


2 1 1 1 1 1 1


13 13 10 11 12 11 14 7 15 14 10 8 12 14 11 15 12

1 1 3 2 2 3 6

1 1 1

1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1

4 5 1 3 1



3 1 1

1 1

The yes column identifies elements which are mandatory by national law; the no column corresponds to principles which are not covered by the law or are stated as voluntary; Varies refers to information which is mandatory in specific circumstances only; finally ? is for countries where no information was available for that particular aspect of EIA. Source: research findings.

J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624


example, in the voluntary addition to regulations where it is perceived there are omissions in the EC Directive. Thus, a consideration of noise and pollution impacts has been added by many MSs; cumulative impacts were also included in the legislation of eight MSs in advance of the amendments to the Directive in 1997. It can also be seen in the interpretation of which Annex 2 projects require EIA. In addition, the development of national EIA guidance by MSs may also be seen as evidence of an interest in implementation. All MSs, except Greece and Luxembourg, have general EIA guidelines. France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK have sectoral ones also. The UK is the country with the most complete set of guidance, covering specific aspects of the procedure as well as providing more general information (for example, Department of the Environment (DOE), 1994, 1995). Together with Belgium and Finland, the UK is one of the few countries to have guidance on EIS review (i.e. on the quality of the document). It is also the country with probably the most flexible legislation and perhaps therefore the one most likely to require interpretation. The existence of an EIA profession, training and research can also be seen as providing some evidence of the acceptance of the concept. This research, updating the earlier work by Wood and Lee (1991), suggested that EIA had professional recognition in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the UK (information was not available for Austria and Finland). These countries also had provision for EIA training, although the scope was variable. Only six countries had regular EIA research programmes: Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the UK. Recognising the limitations of the Directive and the importance of spreading best practice, the Commission initiated research at quite an early stage to develop guidelines on a number of topics: screening (DG. Env, 1996a), scoping (DG. Env, 1996b) and EIS review (DG. Env, 1994). Compiled by European experts, they are based on the requirements of the Directive, but also draw on practice and research in different MSs. They also suggest areas for harmonisation, taking into account national differences, although the Commission has always been careful to indicate that such guidelines are indicative only. Following the 1993 review, the Commission sought amendments to the Directive to provide, inter alia, for more compatibility of EIA systems across MSs frontiers. As with the original Directive, the proposed amendments generated considerable debate between the Commission and the MSs, and the amended Directive went through several versions, with some weakening of the proposed changes. Nevertheless, the changes which have been introduced, for 1999 implementation (CEU, 1997; see Glasson et al., 1999), do represent a considerable strengthening of the Directive and a further step along the harmonisation road. Such amendments include for example: a widening of the coverage of Annex 1, mandatory consideration of alternatives, a new Annex 3 which includes additional characteristics of projects (e.g. cumulative impacts, risk of accidents) and additional characteristics of the potential impacts (e.g. probability of impacts).


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

3. France and the UKlegal frameworks The particular case of France is investigated in more depth, but with comparative reference to the UK situation as appropriate. Table 2 provides a summary of French legislation and government guidance on EIA. While EIA was introduced earlier in France than in the UK, the Directive was only ratified in 1993 by Decree no. 93-245 amending Decree no. 77-1141. The key piece of ` re de legislation is the Law for the Protection of Nature (LPNin Ministe LEnvironnement, 1994), although reference will also be made to the Law relating to Classified Installations (LCI). The LPN does not provide a clear definition of the concept of EIA, although Article 2 indirectly states that EIA is a way of evaluating the consequences of the violation of the natural ecosystem by certain projects. The 1992 Governmental Guidelines see the objectives of EIA as providing answers to the following questions. (a) Where should the development take place? (b) Which development is best for the given location? (c) How should the development be planned to limit the negative and maximize the positive impacts? (d) What are the consequences of the development on the environment? In comparison with the UK which follows the EU model of differentiating between projects which always require EIA and those where assessment is discretionary, in France, the presumption is that all public and private projects require EIA. The legislation defines exemptions using exclusive thresholds and criteria, which are technical (as in the UK) as well as financial (which is unique in the EU). The main criterion for exemption from assessment is the cost of the development. Under a certain threshold (12 million francsapprox. 1.2 million), the project is exempt.2 As this includes both the cost of the development work plus the price of the land, this threshold is considered low by the French authorities (Jegouzo, 1991). It also helps to explain the large number of French EISs compared with the UK. The French legislation also identifies categories of projects which are always subject to EIA, regardless of their costs, and some which only require a simplified assessment called notice dimpact. As the latter provides a very limited assessment, it can also be seen as a form of exemption. Contrary to the UK, there is no reference to significance in the legislation. Thresholds are used but differ substantially from those used in the UK; for example, the criteria for considering a salmon farm in the UK was over 100 tonnes of salmon pa and sensitivity of the site; in France, it was over 2 tonnes and a site of 3 ha. The amended Directive has reduced some of these variations. With regard to EIS content, neither the UK nor France translated all the European minimum requirements into national legislation. Compared with the UK, France failed to implement some of the requirements regarding the description of the project (e.g. land requirements, description of production processes) and to make assessment of impacts on human beings mandatory.

In the new euro zone, this has subsequently been amended to 1.9 million euros.

J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624 Table 2 French legislation and government guidance on EIA Legislation


10 Jul. 1976 Law no. 76-629 on the Protection of Nature 19 Jul. 1976 Law no. 76-663 related to Classified Installations 21 Sept. 1977 Decree no. 77-1133 related to Classified Installations Decree no. 77-1134 related to the List of Classified Installations 12 Oct. 1977 Decree no. 77-1141 implementing art. 2 of the Law no. 76-629 on the Protection of Nature 25 Feb. 1993 Decree no. 93-245 related to EIA and the implementation of the public enquiries 9 Jun. 1994 Decree no. 94-484 amending decree no. 77-1133 related to Classified Installations 30 Dec. 1996 Law related to the Air and the Rational Uses of Energy Guidance des Me thods Le ge ` res de Visualisation des Impacts Paysagers. De legation (1) Jantsen (1981). Traite de la Vie. Atelier Central de lEnvironnement. de la Qualite ` re de lEnvironnement et du Cadre de Vie (1980). Guide pour lElaboration de lEtude (2) Ministe charge Contro e. Cahiers Techniques. dImpact sur lEnvironnement dune De le ` re de lEnvironnement (1980). Guide pour lElaboration de lEtude dImpact sur (3) Ministe lEnvironnement des Lotissement. Cahiers Techniques. ` re de lEnvironnement (1980). Etude dImpact sur lEnvironnement: Etudes des (4) Ministe ` res. Comite de Gestion de la Taxe Parafiscale sur les Granulats. 6 Fascicules. Carrie nagement des Cours dEau. (5) CEMAGREF (1982). lEtude dImpact de lAme ` re de lEnvironnement et du Cadre de Vie (1980). Etude dImpact des Stations (6) Ministe ` re de lEnvironnement thodologie-T.2, Fiches Techniques. Ministe dEpuration Urbaines, T.1, Me et du Cadre de Vie. ` re de lEnvironnement et du Cadre de Vie (1980). Etude dImpact des Stations (7) Ministe ` re de lEnvironnement et du Cadre de Vie. dEpuration Odeurs et Bruits. Ministe ` re de lEnvironnement (1985). Impact sur LEnvironnement-Les Mesures (8) Ministe ` re de lEnvironnement. Compensatoires. Ministe ` re de lEnvironnement et de la Pre vention des Risques Technologiques et Naturels (9) Ministe es pour la Protection de lEnvironnement-Listes de Majeurs (1992). Installations Classe Questions a se Poser pour lEvaluation des Etudes dImpact et des Etude de Dangers. Services de lEnvironnement Industriels. ` re de lEnvironnement (1992). LApprehension du Milieu Naturel et Environmental(10) Ministe thodes et Techniques Utilise es au Travers des Etudes dImpact sur Analyse Critiques des Me lEnvironment. ` re de Source: Lamarque (1992); Moderne and Charles (1994); Code de lUrbanisme and Ministe LEnvironnment (1994).

However, France, overall, made more EU requirements mandatory than the UKincluding differentiation between construction and operation and a description of the forecasting methods and the difficulties encountered. Unlike the UK, France also has additional mandatory requirements to those of the Directive: the analysis of temporary and permanent impacts; the costs of mitigation; the assessment of the impacts on health; the cost of pollution and nuisance and the projects energy consumption; and the need for the EIS to be proportional to the size and effects of the project. The French legislation is also quite detailed regarding trans-boundary impacts and requires EIA for applications regarding


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

pollution control. This is a major difference between the two countries; in the UK, the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) process is kept separate from the planning process. The amended Directive is more stringent on trans-boundary impacts which should assist harmonisation; it also suggests opportunities for integration of control of pollution and development. The parallel French LCI procedures focus on the authorisation to operate rather than the authorisation to build, which is covered by the LPN. The LCI procedures are in many respects more comprehensive than for the LPN, including, for example, mandatory monitoring and risk assessment, but they must be complementary with LPN and respect the general provisions of the EIA legislation. Some detailed guidelines have also been produced by the government ` re de LEnvironnement et de la Prevention des Risques Technologiques (Ministe et Naturels Majeurs, 1992); these are the most technical guidelines in France and probably the most useful. However, there is concern about the saucissanage ` matique (thematic fragmentation) caused by the use of both the LPN and LCI the in parallel, which does mean that different impacts are being dealt with under different legislation. This goes against a holistic approach to development. Both countries fulfil the minimum requirements in the Directive with regard to consultation and decision making. However, in France, these elements are covered by existing processes rather than by specific EIA legislation. There is, for example, no requirement that the EIS should be taken into account in decision making, although it is in the interest of the competent authority to check that it meets the minimum requirements to avoid liability. In comparison with the UK, France concentrates on EIA as a document rather than a process. Attitudes towards the use of EIA also appear to be different; UK guidance stresses that EIA should contribute to an objective and rational decision, whereas in France, the decision is perceived as subjective and political. Member States have developed their own specific legislative approaches for EIA. French regulations are detailed and apply to many projects, in contrast with the UK approach, which makes EIA exceptional, using flexible rules and complementary guidance. The UK approach is closer to the EC Directive, partly because the UK managed to impose its views during the drafting and partly because it did not have any legislation before the Directive. Nevertheless, the Directive has succeeded in developing some common standards and the amended version takes these further. However, such harmonisation as exists is limited to the European minimum standards. Additional requirements tend to be nationspecific and EIA is used differently between countries. In contrast to the UK, in France, the relevant regulations, guidance and court decisions all seem to define EIA as a document whose prime role is to answer specific questions about the development rather than to be a strategic tool. The history of EIA may provide some explanation. In France, EIA was imposed by the central government, which never managed to develop a consensual practice. It is very much seen as yet another legal requirement to comply with. In the UK, the concept of EIA was first introduced by the practitioners, and then developed by central government. As

J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624


such, the discussion now turns to a consideration of EIA practitioners and their practice.

4. France and the UKEIA practitioners The discussion of practitioners focuses on the EIA market of developers, consultants and environmental pressure groups (EPGs). The important role of government (central and regional/local) has been partly covered already. Suffice it to say, with regard to the latter, French central government plays an important role. It has most of the regulatory powers, tends to dictate rigid rules and has considerable influence over the decisions taken by local authorities. In France, in contrast with the UK, a project requiring EIA is not considered as needing more attention than other projects. The consultation process is also more rigid in France te Publique is conceived as an than in the UK. The procedure of Enque information exercise from the authority to the public and the EPGs, which potentially limits the usefulness of EIA in decision making. On the other hand, EIA legislation has facilitated appeals, although the EIS appears to have only limited influence on the judges who tend to focus on arguments of illegality. As in the UK, developers in France are becoming increasingly private sector. Historically, France does tend to prefer smaller and family organisations, although it does have large developers, but not as many as the UK. French consultancies also tend to be smaller and more numerous than in the UK; this generates a high level of competition, which can make them more dependent on developers. The report on the 20th anniversary of the French EIA system (Turlin, 1997) notes this tendency, plus a preference for developers from industry and agriculture to organise the EIS in-house rather than to call on consultants at all. French EPGs are also small compared to the UK. They are Paris-based and tend to specialisation rather than the UK multidisciplinary approach. This specialisation may be sectoral (i.e. dealing with a specific type of development) or in a particular scientific area. This partly reflects the origins of such bodies in the 19th tes savantes (Lascoumes, 1994) which were the only carriers of century as socie scientific knowledge outside the scientific world (Brodhag, 1990). Retaining this scientific approach has been seen as a way of supporting credibility in a very prejudiced area. A survey of the various categories of actor in the EIA process in the UK and France suggested that developers, consultancies, statutory consultees and government (local and central) are all viewed as important, although, in most cases, more important in the UK than in France. In contrast, lawyers are seen as more important in France, reflecting the large number of cases considered by administrative courts. However, the most significant differences in perception of importance relate to the public and EPGs, both of which have a much higher rating in the UK. In France, the scope for involvement is limited and rarely conducive to positive input. This is symptomatic of the French approach to


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

environmental information and to environmental awareness. For example, it is generally possible to gain access to EISs in the UK from local planning authoritiesfrom officers of Central Government departments, from university collections, from the Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) and from developers and consultants themselves. In contrast, it is much more difficult in France where, at the time of the research, there was no easily accessible and comprehensive EIS collections (although the issue was being debated at Ministry level). For any particular case/application for development, consultation of documents must be done on site, at reasonable hours. Despite the Freedom of Information Act, the administrative body can refuse to make documents available if publicity could jeopardise public security or privacy, an argument which has been commonly used on the grounds of protecting consultants expertise and developers competitiveness. This is linked, as one respondent noted, to a culture of secrecy where information is often seen as power. This limits monitoring and the spread of good practice. In contrast to many EU MSs, including the UK, the French remains relatively opposed to environmentalists and to the integration of environmental issues in decision making. This reflects the conforming nature of French society, but also nationalism and politics. For example, when the Brundtland report was published (UN World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987), Jacques Chirac, the French PM at the time, called for its boycott on the grounds that it was another Anglo-Saxon report and portrayed environmentalists as politicised, dogmatic, nonscientific, useless people who have sold out to the Anglo-Saxon world (Brodhag, 1990). Prejudices rooted as environmental issues were used for political aims, thereby reducing environmentalists to either politicians or scientists. This has prevented the French from acknowledging the range of people concerned with the environment and their need to participate in planning decisions (Lascoumes, 1994). As such, French EIA activity tends to be more dependent on experts and is much more of a closed process than in the UK. The politicisation of the debate around environmental issues has also affected the training and qualifications of these experts. Our survey of EIA practitioners showed that French EIA consultants were primarily engineers, and then natural scientists, in contrast to a wider spread of disciplinesnatural scientists, planners, social scientistsin the UK. Similarly, UK EIA staff in LPAs, EPGs and SCs were much more likely to be planners than in France. There is much more provision of EIA training, in short courses and in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, in the UK, although both countries recognise the need for training. In France, there are very few graduate or postgraduate qualifications related to environmental issues outside engineering schools. One interviewee explained that: The University does not constitute a real training [] there are some universities which at Masters level have created courses on environmental

J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624


engineering, chemical pollution and environment, and which are starting to provide relevant qualifications. Yet I see, in our School for instance, we train engineers, they have no experience in that area but they will go and do EIA []. They have the title of engineer and so have a multi-disciplinary vision, so they can deal with anything that is multi-disciplinary. Academic elitism means that scientific qualifications obtained outside of engineering or specialised schools are less valued. Overall, the EIA market in France appears to have less of a professional status than in Britain; it is restricted to experts, predominantly engineers and is dominated by the developers. It regards the environment as a scientific entity, rather than a system, which has direct consequences on EIA practice.

5. France and the UKEIA practice Practice is assessed firstly from the perspective of the practitioner, drawing on the survey findings, complemented as appropriate by information gathered from interviews, literature and personal experience. This is then followed in Section 6 by a comparative assessment of a structured sample of French and UK EISs, concluding with an assessment of UK and French projects in what should be a prime example of harmonisationthe Euro-tunnel project. Practitioners were asked to comment on the content of EISs which they had come across. In general, European minimum requirements were often not perceived to be met in practice in France or in the UK, but France was perceived to be relatively more compliant. This may be because French legislation has left fewer voluntary options; it may also reflect the power of the law. In both countries, the EIS coverage of project description and mitigation measures was seen as good. French coverage of emissions and state of the environment ranked higher than in the UK, but the latter ranked higher on public consultation and the inclusion of a nontechnical summary (not mandatory in France until 1993). Both were seen as relatively weak on the consideration of alternatives, clarification of differences between the construction and operational stages of projects, the consideration of indirect impacts and the description of forecasting methods and difficulties encountered. Practitioners were also asked to identify which types of impacts they considered most important in EIS (see Table 3). Water was highlighted as very important by nearly all French respondents, perhaps reflecting stringent requirements in that area. Landscape also appears to be more of a priority than in the UK, as well as air, noise and risks which all benefit from strong legal support. In contrast, impacts on human beings receive a much higher ranking in Britain than in France. For the UK, this may include more of the impacts of pollutants on human beings, rather than of the socioeconomic impacts which are still limited in UK EISs (see Glasson and Heaney, 1993; Chadwick, 2002). The low French figure may be a reflection of


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

Table 3 Most important impacts for French and British practitioners (figures show percentages of practitioners who ticked the following categories) UK Human beings Landscape Water Designated areas Fauna Flora Noise Air Soil Risks Depends on project Climate Nonresponse Source: research findings. 64 54 50 50 50 45 45 36 32 23 23 4 0 France Water Landscape Air Designated areas Fauna Noise Flora Risks Material assets Soil Climate Depends on project Nonresponse 86 75 64 61 61 58 53 53 32 32 18 0 11

the facts that there are very few social scientists in most EIA teams, and most socioeconomic studies are contained in separate documents. Practitioners were also asked to identify what they perceived as the most important stages in the EIA process. In both countries, mitigation was clearly perceived as the most important aspect, which could be a little disconcerting if it indicates a shift from prevention to cure. In contrast, scoping was also ranked highly in the UK, but was almost an alien concept in France. However, Environmental Management Systems were regarded as much more important in France than in the UK. Both countries had an overall positive view of the usefulness of EIA, but with UK respondents ranking it more highly as a tool in decision making, a way to mediate development and the environment, a way to protect the environmentand a way to justify development. In contrast, France had a higher ranking for EIA as a bureaucratic burden! Such perceptions must be set in the context of the French and UK EIA markets. The UK figure of 300 400 EISs pa (now rising to 600) is low compared to the French figure of 6000 (now rising to 7000). Eighty percent of the UK EISs are processed through the Town and Country Planning Regulations; approximately 50% of the French EISs are through the LPN (MATE, 1997). Most French statements appear to be full statements rather than notice dimpact, but this may be because of the principle of proportionality which allows EISs to be as small as a notice dimpact. Our surveys indicated that French consultancies spend an average of 50 days per EIS compared with 150 for the UK. They also suggest that the preparation of an EIS is cheaper in France (approx. 12,500 compared with 35,000 in the UK). UK EIA guidance is more extensive, produced by both government and other agencies, and is much more up to date than in France, most of which was produced before 1993 and does not incorporate changes which have occurred since then.

J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624


6. Comparative EIS case studies Practitioner perceptions, while useful in aggregate, are perceptions, and it is important to further triangulate such information with an analysis of a key product of the EIA process, the EIS. This involved an assessment of seven matched pairs of EISs for the two countries (see Table 4). They were matched by project type (e.g. two quarries, two sewage works, two bypasses, etc.). Each EIA was assessed in terms of meeting EU minimum requirements and on coverage of various impact types. This quantitative assessment was paralleled by a qualitative assessment, and each EIA was reviewed using the package developed by the Impact Assessment Unit (IAU) at Oxford Brookes University (see Glasson et al., 1999). Interestingly, such review packages do not exist in France, and no evidence was found of research being carried out on such matters. The conclusions of the 20th anniversary seminars (MATE, 1997) revealed that reviewing is only perceived as an administrative duty, and not an independent process. The IAU review package involves an assessment of performance in eight main categories: description of the development, description of the environment, scoping, consultation and impact identification, prediction and evaluation of
Table 4 Comparative sample of EISs subject to review France Case 1 Details extension of Quarry at St-Aubin-des-Bois/ St-Maur-des-Bois (Calvados) Date 1995 Case 3 Details sewage works at sur La Charite ` vre) Loire (Nie Date 1996 Case 5 Details bypass of ` re La Verpille ` re) (Ise Date 1997 Case 7 Details Motorway Anger (Maine-et-Loire) Date 1994 M5 widening: junctions 18 to 19 (Avon) 1994 A142 Fordham bypass (Cambridgeshire) 1996 sewage treatment works Great Yarmouth (Norfolk) 1996 proposed extension to Harden Quarry Biddlestone (Northumberland) 1996 UK France Case 2 transformer and transmission line of transmission line Coryton (Somerset) of Antibes (Alpes Maritimes) 1995 Case 4 sewage works at La Machine ` vre) (Nie 1966/1997 Case 6 strengthening of R.N. 81 at Luzy ne et Loire) (Sao 1995 M621/M1 link roads (Yorkshire and Humberside) 1993 Eign Sewage treatment works (Herefore and Worcester) 1996 1996 UK


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

impacts, alternatives, mitigation and monitoring, nontechnical summary and organisation and presentation of information. Each category includes a number of subcategories. Aggregated performance in each category is assessed on a range from A (good, no omissions) to F (very unsatisfactory), with C/D marking the threshold from satisfactory to unsatisfactory. The aggregated scores for the 14 projects reviewed are in Table 5. Names have been omitted to respect the confidentiality of the projects and the EIS producers. The quantitative assessment against minimum requirements reveals gaps for most projects, and especially for the French projects. These are highlighted in the qualitative assessment (Table 5). While 14 EISs are a partial sample, the qualitative review findings do indicate a higher quality of UK EISs overall, for each matched pair and, more surprisingly, for each review category. It is interesting to note that project description and mitigation measures, which were seen as good by French practitioners, were reviewed as some of the weakest elements of the EISs. This is particularly surprising for France where the law puts so much emphasis on mitigation and tends to support the view that mitigation may be used to promote development. In the search for further evidence on trends towards harmonisation or otherwise, the very particular case of the Euro-tunnel project was taken. The aim was to assess to what extent developments associated with this trans-national project had been assessed in similar ways in the two countries. EISs were reviewed for two railway

Table 5 Summary of case study review Review category Case study 1 France 1 Devel. descript. 2 Environ. descript. 3 Scoping, etc. 4 Prediction, etc. 5 Alternatives 6 Mitigation, etc. 7 NTS 8 Organisation Case study average UK 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 A/B B/C C B/C D C B/C C C 2 D B/C C C B E C B/C C 3 E/F D E/F D/E E E/F F C/D E 4 E/F C/D E/F D D/E E/F F C D/E 5 C B B/C D C D A C C 6 E/F A/B B B/C C E A A/B C 7 C/D B A/B B/C A/B C B B B/C Category average


Devel. descript. Environ. descript. Scoping, etc. Prediction, etc. Alternatives Mitigation, etc. NTS Organisation Case study average









J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624


station developments at either end of the tunnelthe new railway station at Calais and the international passenger station at Ashford. With regard to minimum requirements, both EISs provided good coverage of project and baseline environment description, analysis of impacts and forecasting methods. However, both failed to provide information on residues/emissions and alternatives; the latter might be explained by the nature of the decision to authorise the projects. The Calais EIS provides better information on land requirements and the differences between construction and operation. However, in contrast to the Ashford EIS, it fails to provide an NTS and to account for the difficulties encountered in preparing the EIS; in addition, there is no reference to consultation, and the coverage of mitigation is thin. Both statements have a wide coverage of biophysical and socioeconomic impacts. In contrast to previous discussion, the French EIS particularly promotes economic impactsin this case, the positive impact of the new station for a town up until then facing long-term economic decline. Overall, both statements are of satisfactory quality and do display more commonality in organisation and content than the other pairs of EISs reviewed in this study.

7. Perspectives on harmonisation Directives are only binding in relation to principles and aims, leaving enough flexibility in implementation to incorporate variations in national characteristics. There are considerable variations in the incorporation of the EIA Directive into MSs national legislation, and consequently in the extent of legal harmonisation. Yet all MSs have transposed the Directive into their legislation, leading to measures which do take environmental impacts of projects into decision making. EIA does apply to similar projects in all MSs, despite some omissions of and additions to Annex II projects. Moreover, MSs have included most of the information listed by the Directive, although some of the minimum requirements have not been transposed into the national EIA regulations or have been made optional. For example, half of the Member States do lack provisions for forecasting methods, difficulties encountered and differentiation between operation and construction stages of a project. The particular comparison of the UK and France has identified significant variations in legal harmonisation, for example, in relation to screening criteria, EIS coverage of types of impacts, consultation and issues of pollution control. There are also variations in the spirit of legal implementation, perhaps exemplified by the variations in approach to EIA guidance documentation between the UK and France. Levels of legal harmonisation will of course change over time, and the amended Directive can be seen as a limited step along that road, and perhaps towards a harder version of legal harmonisation. A current EC research project at Oxford Brookes University is seeking to assess the state of procedures and practice 3 years after the 1999 deadline for MSs implementation of the amended Directive.


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

The existence of common legal requirements does not necessarily mean harmonised practice, which depends very much on national attitudes to legal requirements. For example, although they have model legislation, there is quite a policy implementation gap in Mediterranean countries, especially in Greece and Spain. Implementation of legal requirements is also affected by the enforcement of the EIA process; this is another area of limited harmonisation only. The comparison between France and the UK does reveal variations in practice in terms of the application of minimum requirements and in approaches to additional best practice features. The French practice tends to focus more on biophysical features, using an environmental science expert-based approach. The UK practice takes a wider spread of impacts and is somewhat more consultative in approach. The higher regard in France for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) may reflect the emphasis on mitigation, with EMS as a means of managing mitigation measures. The appraisal of EISs suggested higher quality documents in the UK compared with France, although with surprising failings in quality in similar areas of the EISs. Nevertheless, the Anglo-French comparison does demonstrate that the Directive has influenced practice positively and forced practitioners to work to common standards, and most areas of the Directive are systematically complied with. Moreover, both countries appear to have found more common standards when dealing with a shared project, the Euro-tunnel. The national characteristics of MSs, their culture, history, legal and administrative frameworks and political and social dynamics, can provide major barriers to harmonisation. The Anglo-French comparison has highlighted a number of underlying factors. The French attitude to the environment, and general levels of environmental awareness, appear less conducive to effective EIA. Institutional factors are also significant. EIA in France is much more of a top-down administrative process than in the UK. This is partly a reflection of the organisation of government and the distribution of power in the two countries. It may also reflect the fact that France already had an administrative EIA system in place well before the introduction of the EC Directive and was somewhat suspicious of the attempt to standardise using an Anglo-Saxon model. The nature and perceptions of practitioners in the EIA markets in the two countries are also revealing. In France, the EIA practitioners tend to be engineers and scientists and the approach is more technological/science-based than in the UK. French practitioners are experts, and there is little scope for the involvement of the public and pressure groups. The whole approach in France appears more secretive, and the very act of gaining access to EISs is a challenge in itself! The facts that the survey of French practitioners gave a much higher ranking to the role of lawyers in the EIA process, and also to the view that EIA was a bureaucratic burden, are indicative also of the nature of the French EIA system. Our conclusion must be that there is very clearly divergent practice in the EU EIA system, and Anglo-French variations exemplify this. However, there is also evidence of much compliance and a movement to common standards and approach. There may be scope for spreading specific country best practice,

J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624


such as the UK approach to EIA training, guidance, research and a more cooperative model of EIA and the French approach to the consideration and integration of pollution impacts, although to date, much best practice has been nationally bound. Overall, although practice is divergent, it may not be diverging, and recent actions such as the amended Directive appear to be hardening up the regulatory framework and may encourage more convergence.

Bainbridge T, Teasdale A. The Penguin Companion to European Union. Penguin; 1996. ` la Politique. Paris: Du Pelin; 1990. Brodhag C. Objectif Terre-les Verts, de lEcologie a Commission of the European Communities. On the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment. Official Journal, L175; 1985 5 July. Commission of the European Communities. Implementation of Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment. Annex for all Member States, vol. COM(93) final-vol. 13. Brussels: CEC; 1993. Council of the European Union. Council Directive 97/11 EC of 3 March 1997 amending Directive 85/ 337/EEC on the assessment of certain public and private projects on the environment. Official Journal, L73/5; 1997 3 March. Chadwick A. Socio-economic impacts: are they still the poor relations in UK environmental statements? Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 2002;45(1):3 24. Cloke P. Key settlements in rural areas. London: Methuen; 1979. Conchou O, Patin B. Annuaire des Prestataires de Services en Envronnement. Victoires Editions, Collection LEnvironnement Magazine; 1994. Dashwood A. The harmonisation process. In: Cosgrove Twitchett C, editor. Harmonisation in the EEC. Macmillan Press; 1981. cision Environnement. Annuaire des Eco-Acteurs-Guide des Professionels de LEnvironnement. De cision Environment; 1995. De Department of the Environment. Good practice on the evaluation of environmental information for planning projects: A good practice guide. London: HMSO; 1994. Department of the Environment. Preparation of environmental statements for planning projects that require environmental assessment: A good practice guide. London: HMSO; 1995. Directorate General XI-Environment. Environmental impact assessment review checklist. London: European Commission; 1994. Directorate General XI-Environment. Guidance on screening. London: European Commission; 1996a. Directorate General XI-Environment. Guidance on scoping. London: European Commission; 1996b. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The case for soft harmonisation. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 1995;15(3):289 93. Environmental Data Services (ENDS). Environmental consultants directory. London: ENDS; 1997/ 1998. Glasson J, Heaney D. Socio-economic impacts: the poor relations in British environmental impact statements. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 1993;36(3):335 43. Glasson J, Therivel R, Chadwick A. An introduction to environmental impact assessment. 2nd ed. London: Spon; 1999. Impact Assessment Unit. Directory of Environmental Statements. IAU: School of Planning, Oxford Brookes University; 1998. Jansen, PG. Concise Revision of the Report from the Commission of the Implementation of Directive 85/337/EEC on the Assessment of the Effects of Certain Public and Private Projects on the EnvironmentUpdate 1995/96. Stadt-und Regional Planning, Cologne; 1997.


J. Glasson, C. Bellanger / Environ. Impact Asses. Rev. 23 (2003) 605624

flexions sur le Statut Jurisdique de lEtude dImpact. Ame nagement et Nature 1991; Jegouzo Y. Re 102(3):16 9. Kompass. Produits et Services. 66e ed. Tome 1 and 2. Paris: Kompass; 1996. Lamarque J. Code de LEnvironnement (Section Etudes dImpact). Dalloz; 1992. Lascoumes P. LEco-Pouvoir-Environnement et Politique. Paris: La; 1994. ` re de LAme nagement du Territoire et de LEnvironnement, 20e ` me Anniversaire des MATE. Ministe paration dun Colloque sur LEvaluation Environnementale les Etudes dImpact en FrancePre paratoires document No. 1, Synthe ` se des Travaux. Unpublished; 1997. Travaux Pre ` re de LEnvironnement. Etude dImpact sur LEnvironnement: Legislation De crets et CircuMiniste ` re de LEnvironnement, Direction de la Nature et des Paysages; 1994. laires dApplication. Ministe ` re de LEnvironnement et de la Prevention des Risques Technologiques et Naturels Majeurs. Ministe es pour la Protection de LEnvironnement: Liste des Questions a ` se Poser pour Installations Classe ` re de LEnvironnement; 1992. LEvaluation des Etudes dImpact et des Etudes de Dangers. Ministe Moderne F, Charles H. Code de LUrbanisme, Dalloz; 1994. Moussis N. Access to European Union institutions and policies. Paris: EDIT-EUR; 1995. Noin D. LEspace Franc ais. Armand Colin; 1994. Official Journal of the European Communities. Declaration of the Council of the European Communities and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting in the Council of 20/11/1973 on the Programme of Action of European Communities on the Environment. OJEC c112/20.12.73, vol. 16. Brussels: Official Journals; 1973. Official Journal of the European Communities. Resolution of the Council of the European Communities and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States. Meeting Within the Council of 7/02/1983 on the Continuation and Implementation of a European Community Policy and Action Programme on the Environment (1982 to 1986). OEJC c46/17.02.83, vol. 26. Brussels: Official Journals; 1983. Sheate W. The EEC Draft Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Projects: Its History, Development and Implications. MSc Dissertation. Imperial College London; 1984. ` me Anniversaire des Etudes dImpact en France: Synthe ` se des Travaux des De cideurs. Turlin M. 20e ` re de LEnvironnementDirection de la Nature et des Paysages; 1997. Ministe UN World Commission on Environment and Development. Our common future. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press; 1987. Wallace H, Wallace W. Policy-making in the European Union. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press; 1996. Wood C, Lee N. Environmental Impact Assessment Training and Research in the European Communities. Occasional Paper No 27. EIA Centre, Dept. of Planning and Landscape, University of Manchester; 1991. Wood C, Barker A, Jones C, Hughes J. Evaluation of the Performance of the EIA ProcessFinal Report, vols. 1 and 2. European Commission, DGX1; 1996.