What is Environmental Impact Assessment?
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process of examining the anticipated environmental effects of a proposed project - from consideration of environmental aspects at design stage, through consultation and preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR), evaluation of the EIAR by a competent authority, the subsequent decision as to whether the project should be permitted to proceed, encompassing public response to that decision.
What is an Environmental Impact Assessment Report?
An Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) is a report or statement of the effects, if any, which the proposed project, if carried out, would have on the environment. It is prepared by the developer to inform the EIA process.
What projects require EIA?
The projects which require EIA are listed in Annex I and Annex II of the EIA Directive as amended.
Projects listed in Annex I of the EIA Directive have mandatory EIA requirements. Each Member State decides on a case-by-case basis whether Annex II projects require an EIA. Thresholds have been set for Annex II projects in Irish legislation. Projects which do not meet the threshold may require an EIA if the project is likely to have significant effects on the environment.
The Annex I and Annex II projects have been transposed into Section 5 (Parts 1 and 2) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended.
Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA Directive) means Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 20113 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment as amended by Directive 2014/52/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014.
Note: All Environmental Impact Assessment Reports submitted to the EPA or other Consent Authorities on or after the 16th May 2017 must meet the requirements of Directive 2014/52/EU.
1. Licensing Role
The EPA is a competent authority for EIA. For Integrated Pollution Control (IPC), Industrial Emissions (IE) and Waste licence applications, where the activity is also a project which requires EIA, the Agency must conduct an assessment of the application for the purposes of EIA as respects the matters that come within the functions of the Agency. Where proposed development comprising or for the purposes of a waste water discharge requiring an authorisation is also a project which requires EIA, the Agency must conduct an assessment of the application for the purposes of EIA.
Regulations published in 2020 transpose the requirements of Directive 2014/52/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014, amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (the EIA Directive), for IPC, IE, and Waste Licensing and Wastewater authorisation. The Regulations are available here and on www.irishstatuebook.ie
The EPA's role in EIA for sites that require an IPC, IE, Waste or Wastewater Discharge authorisation is linked to that of the Planning Authority/An Bord Pleanala. Provisions for consultation between the EPA and the Planning Authority/ An Bord Pleanala are set out in legislation.
2. Consultation Role
The EPA is a statutory consultee to An Bord Pleanala and other consent authorities. The provisions for consultation are set out in legislation. The types of consultations include applications for strategic infrastructure developments, state developments, electricity and gas infrastructure and consultation on the scope and level of detail to be contained in an EIAR. The email address for this type of correspondence to the Agency is: EIAPlanning@epa.ie
Section 72 of the EPA Act 1992 as amended provides for the preparation by the Agency of guidelines on the information to be contained in Environmental Impact Assessment Reports”. The first "Guidelines on the information to be contained in Environmental Impact Statements" were adopted and published in 2002. The latest draft Guidelines on the information to be contained in Environmental Impact Assessment Reports dated August 2017 are available here.
Link to: European Commission Guidance on EIA
Find out about Licensing and permitting
Legislation pertaining to EIA may be found on the EPA website, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and on the Irish Statute Book website.
EIA thresholds may be found in the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 - 2020 (Unofficial Consolidation)
Find out about Strategic Environmental Assessment