Contributed By Winston & Strawn London LLP
As highlighted in 8.7 The Acquisition and Export of Natural Resources, the main sources of environmental laws applicable to projects in the UK are the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (as amended) and the planning permit obtained by the Project Company. The regulatory bodies overseeing environmental issues in the UK are the Environment Agency in England, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Projects in the UK are also subject to EU environmental laws in many areas, such as air pollution, sustainable development, waste management, water protection, soil protection and noise pollution. On 12 March 2014 the European Parliament adopted the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive 2014/52/EU (EIA Directive), which substantially amended the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive 2011/92/EU (implemented in the UK as the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011). The EIA Directive was transposed into UK legislation in May 2017 and imposes, among other things, requirements for the assessment of the impact of projects on biodiversity, climate change, landscape and disaster risks and imposes monitoring obligations during both the implementation and operation of the project.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), together with local authorities, is responsible for overseeing health and safety in the UK. Project companies (and their management team) that breach health and safety legislation in the UK risk being prosecuted, with penalties with respect to the HSW Act ranging from a GBP20,000 fine and/or 12 months’ imprisonment to an unlimited fine and/or two years’ imprisonment.