Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process by which the anticipated effects on the environment of a proposed development or project are measured. If the likely effects are unacceptable, design measures or other relevant mitigation measures can be taken to reduce or avoid those effects.

The document from this process is called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 

Projects listed in Annex I have mandatory EIA requirements.  The Planning Authority makes decisions on a case-by-case basis on whether Annex II projects require an EIA.

Thresholds have been set for Annex II projects.  But even projects which do not meet the threshold may require an EIA.

EIA requirements in Ireland are incorporated into planning laws and other infrastructural consent systems.  

The EPA and EIS

The role of the EPA in relation to EISs is multifaceted.

Licensing Role

The EPA is a competent authority under Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) or Waste Licensing regimes.  The EPA will assess an EIS submitted as part of an application for an IPPC or Waste licence.  The EPA can provide scoping advice for these EISs.  Such scoping requests should be directed to the Environmental Licensing Programme, Office of Climate, Licensing & Resource Use, Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Inspectorate, Inniscarra, Co Cork.

The EPA will also consider an EIS in exercising its function with regard to Waste Water Discharge Authorisations.

Statutory Consultee Role

The EPA is a consultee to An Bord Pleanala.  Therefore, the EPA may make observations/submissions to An Bord Pleanala in relation to EISs for Local Authority developments and strategic infrastructure developments which comprise an IPPC or Waste licenseable activity.  In addition, the EPA may provide advice on what should be contained within an EIS for strategic infrastructure developments, state developments, gas infrastructure or a Waste/IPPC licensable activity, when requested to do so by the Planning Authority or An Bord Pleanala.  Such notifications and requests should be directed to the Environmental Licensing Programme, Office of Climate, License & Resource Use, Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Inspectorate, Inniscarra, Co Cork.

Printed copies of the EIS Guidelines and Advice Notes area available from the EPA Publications Office, McCumiskey House, Dublin Regional Inspectorate, Richview, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14.  Telephone (01) 2680100, Fax (01) 2680199.  Advice Notes €25 and Guidancelines €13.

The EPA and Planning

Planning Authorities or Local Authorities send notifications to the EPA in relation to proposed developments associated with Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) or Waste licensable activities.  The EPA may make submissions/observations on these notices.  Proposed developments such as road, group water schemes, wind farms and housing schemes are not licensable activities and in these circumstances the EPA should not be notified.

The EPA will respond to a notice from An Bord Pleanala regarding a planning application for a development comprising of a waste licensable activity.

A Planning Authority or An Bord Pleanala may request the EPA to make observations in relation to a proposed development that, in their assessment, is likely to have a significant impact on waste water discharges.  The EPA will make observations on the assessment undertaken.

Such notifications and requests should be directed to Environmental Licensing Programme, Office of Climate, Licensing & Resource Use, Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Inspectorate, Inniscarra, Co Cork.

The EPA and Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID)

Strategic infrastructure development (SID) can generally be described as development which is of strategic economic or social importance to the State or a region.  Such developments are covered by the Planning & Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.

In relation to SID, An Bord Pleanala may consult the EPA on transboundary aspects and shall consult the EPA on the content of an EIS where a request for an opinion was made in writing to An Bord Pleanala.  The EPA may make observations/submissions to An Bord Pleanala in relation to an EIS for an IPPC or Waste licensable SID that has been submitted directly by an applicant.  Any such submissions should be directed to the Environmental Licensing Programme, Office of Climate, Licensing & Resource Use, Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Inspectorate, Inniscarra, Co Cork.

More information on strategic infrastructure development is available on the An Bord Pleanala website.

Learn more

Download an EIS guidance document

Find out about Strategic Environmental Assessment

Read the European Commission's information on EIA and SEA

Download the Codified EIA Directive (2011/92/EU)

Find out about Licensing and Permitting

EIS requirements for licence applications may be found in the relevant application forms and guidance notes

Legislation pertaining to EIA may be found on the DoECLG website and on the Irish Statute Book website.

EIA thresholds may be found in the Unofficial Consolidation of Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2013 - http://www.environ.ie/en/Legislation/DevelopmentandHousing/Planning/FileDownLoad,32879,en.pdf