To call for EU regulation in this area of the EC initiative (planned for the end of 2013) and stress the need for discretion for LRAs
The European Parliament has taken on board the CoR requirement to apply mandatory EIA to all shale gas projects irrespective of their scale.
Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 9 October 2013 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2011/92/EU of the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (COM(2012)0628 – C7-0367/2012 – 2012/0297(COD)).
Amendment 31 of the EP proposes to introduce in the Directive a new Recital (23a) stating that "in accordance with the precautionary principle, as called for by the European Parliament resolution of 21 November 2012 on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities, it would be appropriate to include non-conventional hydrocarbons (shale gas and oil, ‘tight gas, ’coal bed methane‘), defined according to their geological characteristics, in Annex I to Directive 2011/92/EU, regardless of the amount extracted, so that projects concerning such hydrocarbons are systematically made subject to environmental impact assessment."
Moreover, Commissioner Potocnik has declared he was exploring the possibilities for a directive on shale gas to be proposed by the European Commission, as the CoR has called for in its opinion. The rapporteur's position appeared in a series of major printed and electronic media across the EU, both specialised and those aimed at a broader public, e.g. the Guardian.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- concurs with the European Commissioner for the Environment that studies carried out to date indicate that there are a number of uncertainties or gaps in current EU legislation, stresses that addressing health and environmental risks will be of paramount importance if the industry is to gain public acceptance and calls on the EC to deliver a framework on managing the risks and addressing shortcomings in relevant EU regulation;
- requests that decisions by Local and Regional Authorities to prohibit, limit and control development/activity associated with the extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons are respected. Local and regional authorities should possess the right to exclude sensitive areas (e.g. potable water protection zones, villages, arable land, etc.) from possible Unconventional Hydrocarbon Development activities;
- underlines the crucial importance of the principle of transparency and of involving affected sections of the public as well as local and regional authorities in decision-making in this sensitive area, and is concerned that not enough consideration is yet given to these principles in all Member States;
- supports the proposal that unconventional hydrocarbons should be included in Annex I of the revised EU Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) directive, so that the relevant projects are systematically made subject to EIA, and calls on the European Commission to explore the establishment of common environmental standards for exploration and extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons in the EU to facilitate coherent and understandable EIAs.