Under current regulations an environmental impact assessment, commonly known as an EIA, is required as part of the planning process for major development schemes or certain projects likely to pose a risk to the environment.
The purpose of an environmental impact assessment is to ensure that the environmental effects of a proposed development are properly considered. The assessment enables the local planning authority to make an informed decision about whether permission should be granted and to impose appropriate conditions.
Preparing an environmental impact assessment can involve a considerable amount of work, and can cause delays and additional costs to a project. We recommend early consultation with the local planning authority to determine whether an environmental impact assessment will be required, what it should contain and what methodology should be adopted.
Environmental impact assessments are normally required for major development schemes such as power stations, refineries, dams, pipelines and airports. Environmental impact assessments may also be required for developments in sensitive or vulnerable locations or unusually complex projects that may have adverse environmental effects.
If an applicant is uncertain about whether an environmental impact assessment is required, they can ask the local planning authority for a decision called a screening opinion (or screening decision). The applicant can also approach the local planning authority for advice about the required scope of the environmental impact assessment, this is called a scoping opinion (or scoping decision). If the applicant disagrees with these opinions, the case can be passed to the secretary of state to make the decision.