Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process undertaken by developers when it is considered that a development proposal may have a significant environmental impact.

What is an environmental statement?

An Environmental Statement (ES) is a developer's assessment of the environmental impact of a project. It will contain suggestions for mitigation (taking protective measures to reduce or remove this impact).

The requirement for EIA arises from Directive 85/337/EEC as transposed by The Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999.

On certain large-scale development proposals the NIEA Development Management Team are asked by Planning Service (PS) to assess whether an EIA is required due to its environmental impact - Screening.

When PS determines that an EIA is required NIEA will advise what types of surveys and other technical information will be needed to assess the environmental impact.

This ensures that the potential impact of development proposals on all sensitive habitats, wildlife, landscapes and earth science features is fully assessed This process is known as Scoping.

On receipt of the Environmental Statement, NIEA review the ecological, landscape and visual information provided. We may ask PS for clarification/ additional information and/ or recommend measures for further mitigation of the potential impact of the proposal.

To ensure that this process is carried out in an efficient and timely manner the NIEA Development Management Team recommends that:

  • NIEA are contacted at the earliest possible stage of a development proposal. This will allow us to advise what surveys will be required which allows the developer the opportunity to carry out surveys at the appropriate time of year
  • NIEA are consulted at the scoping stage of the process so that we can advise if records are available on the site and what information will need to be provided by the developer
  • Professional advice is sought from experienced qualified ecologists and/or geologists on how conservation features may be conserved and ecological enhancements may be provided
  • A location plan is submitted that clearly identifies the site area with a grid reference and the site is outlined with a red line on an extract of the ordnance survey map

Other Guidance on EIA

  • The European Commission provides advice on compliance with the EIA Directive
  • Guidance on assessing the impact on ecosystems - 'Ecological Impact Assessment Guidelines' is produced by the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
  • Earth Science Conservation Review sets out objectives for the conservation of Northern Irelands geological resources
  • The Northern Ireland Biodiversity Strategy lists Northern Ireland's Priority Habitats and Species. Northern Ireland Action Plans for habitats Northern Ireland Species Action Plans for species
  • Advice from the Department of the Environment
  • Advice from the Planning Service
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