Environmental Impact Assessment Experience Shared in Vilnius

05 September 2013, Last updated at, 12:00 EET
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author: REUTERS/Scanpix

Today began a two-day informal meeting of European Union national environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment experts at the Novotel Hotel, Vilnius.

At the meeting of experts in Vilnius, attended by environmental impact assessment experts from Germany, France, Great Britain, Poland, Finland and other countries – more than twenty European countries – among other things the experts will focus on exchanging the latest information on the consideration of amendments to the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive during the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council in its working groups.

"It will be a big challenge for Lithuania to reach consensus on this sensitive issue among Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament," said Vitalijus Auglys, Director of the Pollution Prevention Department of the Lithuanian Ministry of Environment, who represents Lithuania at the meeting. According to him, Lithuania will pay close attention to the review of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive during Lithuania’s Presidency, and will actively seek agreement on rational measures that may improve the quality of assessment, simplify procedures and accelerate them without the additional administrative and financial burden of the private and public sector.

At the meeting, the national experts will also discuss issues concerning upgrading the manual for the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive application to various projects, and the Espoo Convention providing obligations for parties implementing activities that may have adverse impact outside their own country. Provisions of the Convention are obligatory to observe, for example, in the construction of nuclear power plants, oil and gas pipelines, and so on.

In the part where countries share experience gained implementing large-scale energy projects and applying requirements of the European Parliament and Council Regulation on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure, which was approved this spring, AB Klaipeda Oil representatives will present Lithuania’s experience of implementation of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project in Klaipeda. For monitoring the implementation of this project, the interagency government commission headed by the Prime Minister of Lithuania was created, and it played an important and significant role in coordination of the LNG terminal project.

At the sittings in Vilnius, high officials of the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and representatives of the JASPERS financial partnership project are involved.

Such meetings in countries of the EU Council Presidency have been organized since 2005. The twice-yearly meetings of national experts tackle various environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment issues. For this purpose, legislative initiatives proposed by the European Commission are discussed, problematical issues concerning the practical application of environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental impact assessment directives are analysed, and common solutions for the preparation of practical handbooks are developed; the national experts share the best practices from their countries.

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