Environmental Impact Analysis:
Scoping, Screening, Assessment
    Environmental Impact Assessment:
    regulations and guidelines.
    European Union

    Strategic Environmental Assessment (2001/42/EC): The purpose of the SEA-Directive is to ensure that environmental consequences of certain plans and programmes are identified and assessed during their preparation and before their adoption. The public and environmental authorities can give their opinion and all results are integrated and taken into account in the course of the planning procedure. After the adoption of the plan or programme the public is informed about the decision and the way in which it was made. In the case of likely transboundary significant effects the affected Member State and its public are informed and have the possibility to make comments which are also integrated into the national decision making process.

    Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effect of certain public and private projects on the environment has been amended by Directive 97/11/EC whose provisions must be transposed and put into force by 14 March, 1999. The changes are less an amendment and more a transformation which aim to overcome the weaknesses of the original, especially concerning the types of project to be assessed and the information to be included in the assessments.

    The directive embodies the preventive approach to environmental protection by requiring that before consent is given by a governmental body, development projects likely to have significant effects on the environment, are subjected to an assessment of possible environmental impacts.

    Some categories of projects listed in Annex I to the directive are always subject to the environmental impact assessment requirement. Others, listed in Annex II, which may have significant effects on the environment are subject to assessment when certain criteria determined by the Member State are met.

    The promoter must supply the competent authority with detailed relevant information about the project in the impact statement. Environmental authorities must be given an opportunity to comment before a decision on the project is taken. The public must be informed of the request for development and the impact statement and allowed to express its opinion. Decisions by the competent authority have to take the assessment results into account.

    Information must be provided to other Member States likely to be affected by a project, and these may participate in the assessment procedure. This follows the main provisions of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on the assessment of projects with transboundary impacts (Espoo Convention).

    Implementation considerations

    1. Determine the competent authorities and the administrative structure that are needed at the national and sub-national levels. Existing Member States have relied heavily on the integration of EIA requirements into land use planning legislation with much responsibility for implementation given to local governments. The EIA procedure might also be integrated into the IPPC for installations and activities covered by that directive.
    2. Guidelines must be established at the national level on information to be included in an environmental impact document and for the assessment and decision-making processes. This will support the standardisation of procedures and outcomes. They should be specific to particular types of activity, e.g. roads, railways, airports, urban development.
    3. A key dimension of the guidelines is the development of procedures for public participation models in order to arrive at transparent decision-making processes.
    4. It will be important to provide training in conducting the assessment processes, measuring, mitigating or preventing the environmental effects of projects.
    5. Reasonable fees can be charged the promoters for the administrative costs of processing the environmental impact assessments.
    6. Avoid conflicts of interest in which administrative 'competent authorities' are asked to approve projects for which they are also promoters.
    7. The competent authority will need to have the necessary technical and scientific knowledge in order to assess the environmental impacts of the project based on the information gathered and provided by the developer.
    EU EIA homepage Directive 85/337/EEC Directive 97/11/EC 2001/42/EC (SEA) UN ECE (Espoo)

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