This research evaluates the importance and effectiveness of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) within wind farm planning debates, drawing on insights from case studies in Scotland. Despite general public support for renewable energy on the grounds that it is needed to tackle climate change and implement sustainable development, many proposed wind farms encounter significant resistance. The importance of planning issues and (EIA) processes has arguably been overlooked within recent wind farm social acceptability discourse. Through semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and textual analysis of EIA documents, the characteristics of EIA are assessed in terms of its perceived purpose and performance. The data show that whilst respondents perceive EIA to be important, they express concerns about bias and about the inability of EIA to address climate change and wind farm decommissioning issues adequately. Furthermore, the research identifies key issues which impede the effectiveness of EIA, and reveals differences between theoretical and practical framings of EIA. The paper questions the assumption that EIA is a universally applicable tool, and argues that its effectiveness should be analysed in the context of specific development sectors. The article concludes by reviewing whether the recently amended EIA Directive (2014/52/EU) could resolve identified problems within national EIA practice.