Advocate-General Kokott today gave her opinion in Case C-75/08 Mellor v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. This was a reference from the Court of Appeal.
The case concerned the need for reasons for negative screening decisions under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.
The questions referred were:
- Whether under Article 4 of Council Directive 85/337/EEC as amended by Directives 97/11/EC and 2003/35/EC Member States must make available to the public reasons for a determination that in respect of an Annex II project there is no requirement to subject the project to assessment in accordance with Articles 5 to 10 of the Directive?
- If the answer to Question 1 is in the affirmative whether that requirement was satisfied by the content of the letter dated 4 December 2006 from the Secretary of State?
- If the answer to Question 2 is in the negative, what is the extent of the requirement to give reasons in this context?
The Advocate-General proposed the following answers:
- The Member States must, under Article 4 of Council Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, as amended by Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC, make available to the public the reasons for a decision that, in respect of an Annex II project, it is not necessary to subject the project to an assessment in accordance with Articles 5 to 10 of the directive.
- That decision must contain or be accompanied by all the information that makes it possible to check that it is based on adequate screening carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Directive 85/337. In particular, there must be a sufficient demonstration of the reasons why legal and factual aspects which have already been raised in the procedure do not show that there is a possibility of significant effects on the environment”
James Maurici was Counsel for the United Kingdom