Urbanismo y Evaluación Ambiental Estratégica

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Urban Planning and Strategic Environmental Assessment.

Sentence of the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia, of March 8, 2021, Contentious-Administrative Chamber.

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The Chamber pronounces on the contentious-administrative appeal formulated by an individual against the Agreement of the Plenary of a City Council, by which the modification of the Urban Planning Regulations of the General Urban Planning Plan of the municipality was definitively approved.

One of the reasons alleged by the appellant is the omission of the prior processing of a strategic environmental assessment, at least simplified, required for a modification of an urban plan, in accordance with the provisions of article 6.2, letter a) of the Law 21/2013, of December 9, on Environmental Assessment.

The appellant argues that it is not a minor modification as it affects the entire municipal territory and all categories of land, in fact, there are several provisions of the regulations affected. Likewise, the modification includes provisions related to the buildability, position of the building and design of the accommodation.

Previously, the Chamber emphasizes that within the administrative file there was a report issued by the Environmental Protection Service in which the need to submit the file to a strategic environmental evaluation was advocated, although the Territorial Delegation of Environment and Management of the Territory of the CCAA, considered unnecessary the submission to Strategic Environmental Assessment, provided that a series of deficiencies observed in the technical and legal reports of the file were corrected.

The Chamber reminds us in this ruling, and brings up various jurisprudential doctrine, in order to state competence to establish an organization of environmental protection through basic laws that establish minimums that must be respected in any case, but that allows the Communities Autonomous establish higher levels of protection and not lower them. The regulations that are applicable to the environmental assessment process at all levels are reviewed to reach the following conclusions:

1. In the administrative file, no analysis was carried out on the advisability of submitting the procedure to a Strategic Environmental Assessment.

2. The Autonomous Law cannot be interpreted in such a way that the environmental requirements established in the basic state regulations are made more flexible or lowered.

3. The innovation of urban planning, through its modification, affected a considerable number of urban regulations in which a new detailed arrangement was established and a regulation of activities that could affect the environment.

4. It was required to have submitted the file, at least, to a simplified EAE.

In short, after estimating the appeal, the Agreement of the Plenary of the City Council is declared void and, therefore, the general provision approved, as the modification of the General Urban Planning Plan has not been submitted to the Evaluation procedure provided for in state law 21/2013.