Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is an important procedure for ensuring that the likely effects of new development on the environment are fully understood and taken into account before the development is allowed to go ahead. This booklet, which is intended primarily for developers and their advisers, explains how European Community (EC) requirements for the environmental impact assessment of major projects have been incorporated into consent procedures in the UK. It revises the booklet 'Environmental Assessment: A Guide to the Procedures', first published in 1989, to take account of the requirements of Directive 97/11/EC, which was adopted on 3 March 1997 and came into effect on 14 March 1999.
Directive 97/11/EC amends the original Directive 85/337/EEC on 'The assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment', which came into effect in July 1988. The text of the Directive as amended (with amendments shown in italics) is reproduced in Appendix 1 to this booklet. Throughout this booklet, references to `the Directive' mean Directive 85/337/ EEC as amended by Directive 97/11/EC. The effect of the Directive is to require environmental impact assessment to be carried out, before development consent is granted, for certain types of major project which are judged likely to have significant environmental effects.
Parts 1 and 2 of this booklet explain the procedures which apply to projects falling within the scope of the Directive and requiring planning permission in England and Wales. For such projects the Directive was given legal effect through the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (SI No 293 http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si /si1995/uksi_19950418_en_1.htm) ('the EIA Regulations') which came into force on 14 March 1999 and apply to relevant planning applications lodged on or after that date. The full text of the Regulations is published separately by The Stationery Office. For ease of reference, those parts of the Regulations which list the types of project to which they apply, and specify what information an environmental statement must contain, are reproduced in Appendices 2 to 4 to this booklet. The booklet is not intended to be an authoritative interpretation of the law and does not remove the need to refer to the Regulations.
Formal guidance on procedures under the Regulations, directed principally at local planning authorities, was issued in DETR Circular 2/99 (Welsh Office Circular 11/99). Although the present booklet, like its predecessor, is meant to be reasonably self-contained, developers may need to refer to that Circular, particularly for fuller information on how planning authorities are expected to judge the significance of a project's likely effects for the purpose of deciding whether environmental impact assessment is required. Parts 1 and 2 also give some general guidance, applicable to all types of project, on the nature of environmental impact assessment and on the practical aspects of preparing an environmental statement.
Part 3 gives a brief account of the procedures which apply to other projects within the scope of the Directive but which are not approved under planning procedures, for example, motorways, harbour works and long distance pipe-lines. It also deals very briefly with environmental impact assessment procedures in Scotland and Northern Ireland. For the detailed requirements, reference will need to be made to the relevant statutory instruments and associated guidance (see Appendix 8 to this booklet). Throughout this booklet, the term 'environmental impact assessment' (EIA) is used to describe the whole process whereby information about the environmental effects of a project is collected, assessed and taken into account in reaching a decision on whether the project should go ahead or not. The process was formerly referred to in the UK as `environmental assessment' (EA). An 'environmental statement' is a document setting out the developer's own assessment of a project's likely environmental effects, which is prepared and submitted by the developer in conjunction with the application for consent.