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CJEU rule procedures for the partial or total repeal of a land use plan are subject to SEA

DATE: 22 Mar 2012

The CJEU today gave judgment in Case C-567/10 Inter-Environnement Bruxelles ASBL, Pétitions-Patrimoine ASBL, Atelier de Recherche et d’Action Urbaines ASBL v Région de Bruxelles-Capitale.

The CJEU concluded that the concept of plans or programmes in Directive 2001/42/EC – the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive - ‘which are required by legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions’, within the meaning of Article 2(a) of the Directive, must be interpreted as including plans or programmes (such as the specific land use plan at issue in the main proceedings) whose adoption is regulated by national legislative or regulatory provisions, which determine the competent authorities for adopting them and the procedure for preparing them even if their adoption is  not in all circumstances compulsory.

Further, Article 2(a) must be interpreted as meaning that a procedure for partial or total repeal of a land use plan falls in principle within the scope of the Directive, so that it is subject to the rules relating to the assessment of effects on the environment. The CJEU did say:

“On the other hand, it must be made clear that, in principle, that is not the case if the repealed measure falls within a hierarchy of town and country planning
measures, as long as those measures lay down sufficiently precise rules governing land use, they have themselves been the subject of an assessment of their environmental effects and it may reasonably be considered that the interests which Directive 2001/42 is designed to protect have been taken into account sufficiently within that framework.”

James Maurici acted for the United Kingdom Government which intervened by way of written submissions.