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Discretionary Judgement in Local Planning Authority Decision Making: Screening Development Proposals for Environmental Impact Assessment

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Screening is a critical decision-stage in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and involves the determination of whether or not a development proposal will require EIA. This decision requires a discretionary judgement on whether the development has the potential to cause ‘significant environmental effects', and consequently there is potential for diversity to exist in formal requests for EIA. Drawing upon a comprehensive survey of Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) in England and Wales, this paper explores the characteristics of LPA screening decision making since the introduction of revised EIA regulations in March 1999. The paper starts with a theoretical overview of rationality, decision making and planning theory, followed by a brief review of the regulatory context of EIA screening. The research approach is then outlined and the survey findings are presented, including a detailed consideration of organizational and individual level analyses set within the context of planning theory judgement debates. Comparisons with other European countries are briefly made, before drawing conclusions and recommendations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Planning, School of the Built Environment, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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