ARCHIVE: Cross Compliance: Management of Habitats and Landscape Features: Guidance for Cross Compliance in England (rpa176)

GAEC 5. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)


The aim of this GAEC, as set out in The Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2011 edition, is to take into account the environmental importance of uncultivated land and semi-natural areas. It applies to you if you intend to increase the productivity of land that either has not been cultivated within the last 15 years or is semi-natural.

 

1. This standard supports the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2006 and the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999. By complying with the requirements of that legislation, you will meet your responsibilities under this GAEC.

Environmental Impact Assessment of uncultivated land and semi-natural areas

 

Why do we need this standard and what are we trying to achieve?
2. The Environmental Impact Assessment process identifies uncultivated land and semi-natural areas of particular importance to the environment. It also considers the effects of increasing the productivity of this land for agricultural purposes before work begins.
Good practice – what you should do to help get the best results
3. You should apply to Natural England for an Environmental Impact Assessment screening decision if you are planning work which will:
 
  • take place on 2 hectares or more of uncultivated land or semi-natural area; and
  • increase the productivity for agriculture of that land.
  The Environmental Impact Assessment guidance gives a full list of projects or operations including, for example, ploughing, drainage and the spreading of fertiliser or lime (read More information on page 11). The types of land covered by the regulations will either:
 
  • not have been cultivated (physically or chemically) in the last 15 years; or
  • be a semi-natural area as defined in Annex 1 of the Environmental Impact Assessment guidance. You can carry out an assessment yourself to find out if the land you are looking at falls under Environmental Impact Assessment regulations.
4. The 2 hectare threshold also applies where several small projects, with a combined area of 2 hectares or more, are planned on a single holding. You will need permission for work involving more than 2 hectares of relevant land, even if the work is carried out in stages over a long time, or if it involves different types of work, such as ploughing in one area or using fertiliser in another.
5. If you are not sure of the environmental value of the land you are assessing, or if the work you are planning could be considered as a project, you can discuss this with the Environmental Impact Assessment Unit at Natural England, Bristol (read More information on page 11 for contact details). If your project falls under the regulations, you should only start it if you have approval from the Environmental Impact Assessment Unit.
Bad practice – what you should avoid doing
6. Ignoring the Environmental Impact Assessment process, or carrying out an incorrect assessment, could result in Natural England taking action to stop any work and you having to return the land to how it was before you started the work. They may even prosecute through the courts.
  Exceptions
7. Although in general the rules of this GAEC standard apply to land of 2 hectares or more, Natural England has the power to serve screening notices on areas of land smaller than 2 hectares.

 

Other legislation and codes of good practice you should follow

The Environmental Impact Assessment process does not replace, duplicate or affect other statutory requirements that may restrict operations on the land

 

More information

General information on Environmental Impact Assessment relating to uncultivated land or semi-natural areas is available from the Environmental Impact Assessment Unit at Natural England. Use the freephone helpline 0800 028 2140, or e-mail eia.england@naturalengland.org.uk

The Environmental Impact Assessment guidance is available at www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/regulation/eia/default.aspx

Environmental Impact Assessment of forestry

 

Why do we need this standard and what are we trying to achieve?
8. Removing or planting trees can have a significant impact on the environment. Landscape is most obviously affected, but wildlife habitats and individual species can be affected too. The landscape character of an area and sites of archaeological value can be damaged or destroyed by inappropriate tree removal or tree planting. You must make sure that you complete the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment process before starting any project or operation that will affect tree and woodland areas on your farm.
Good practice – what you should do to help get the best results
9. If you are planning any woodland planting or removal, or work to create or maintain forestry roads, or any quarry works associated with forestry roads, contact the Forestry Commission, which has to consider them under the Environmental Impact Assessment Forestry Regulation and can offer you advice.
10. If the project does not require an Environmental Impact Assessment, you should still check with the Forestry Commission to see whether you need a felling licence before starting any work (read GAEC 16).
11. The forestry Environmental Impact Assessment process does not encourage converting woodland to other land uses. It is important to check with the Forestry Commission before you start to convert any woodland areas, including those where trees have invaded other natural habitats or important sites and are causing damage. You will still need to meet felling licence and Tree Preservation Order rules.
Bad practice – what you should avoid doing
12. Do not ignore the Environmental Impact Assessment process if it applies to your land and the project you are planning.
13. Tree species and woodland areas planted in the wrong place, and badly sited roads or quarries, can all have a significant negative impact on local landscape, archaeology and wildlife. Therefore, you should plan your planting carefully, and get professional advice if you are not sure.
Exceptions
14. There are several thresholds for Environmental Impact Assessment of forestry. You can read full details on the Forestry Commission website at www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-6dfl55.

 

Other legislation and codes of good practice you should follow

Forestry Act 1967
Forestry (Felling of Trees) Regulations 1979
GAEC 16 Felling of trees
GAEC 17 Tree Preservation Orders

 

More information

General information on Environmental Impact Assessments of forestry is available from the Forestry Commission or at www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-6dfl55

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