7.0 The "Screening" Process
7.1 The Planning Service must screen every application for a Schedule 2 development to determine whether or not an EIA is required. The essential determining factor will be the extent to which a particular Schedule 2 development is likely to have significant effects on the environment. The Planning Service must have regard to relevant “selection criteria” set out in Schedule 3 of the Regulations under the three broad headings of characteristics of developments, the environmental sensitivity of the location and the characteristics of the potential impact.
7.2 In general and having regard to the interpretation of the Schedule 3 criteria, it is the Department’s view that, in general, EIA will most likely be needed for Schedule 2 developments in three main types of case:
For major developments which are of such a scale as to have wide-ranging environmental effects and be of more than local importance;
7.3 It has to be emphasised that the basic test of the need for EIA in a particular case is the likelihood of significant effects on the environment. It should not be assumed, for example, that conformity with a development plan rules out the need for EIA. Nor is the number of objections to a development relevant to a determination but such objections might highlight that there are likely to be significant effects on the environment.
8.0 Indicative Criteria and Threshold
8.1 Given the range of Schedule 2 development, and the importance of location in determining whether significant effects on the environment are likely, it is not possible to formulate criteria or thresholds which will provide a universal test of whether or not EIA is required. The question must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
However, it is possible to offer a broad indication of the type or scale of development which is likely to be a candidate for EIA and, conversely, an indication of the sort of development for which EIA is unlikely to be necessary.
8.2 For each category of Schedule 2 development, Annex A of this Advice Note lists criteria and/or thresholds which indicate the types of developments for which, in the Department’s view, EIA is more likely to be required. Annex A also gives an indication of the types of impact – indicative thresholds - that are most likely to be significant for particular types of development. It should not be presumed that developments falling below these thresholds could never give rise to significant effects, especially where the development is in or adjacent to an environmentally sensitive location. Equally, developments which exceed the thresholds will not in every case require assessment. The fundamental test to be applied in each case is whether the particular type of development and its specific impacts in the particular location are likely to result in significant effects on the environment.
8.3 In general, each application (or request for an opinion) should be considered for EIA on its own merits. The development should be judged on the basis of what is proposed by the developer.
8.4 However, in judging whether the effects of a development are likely to be significant, the Department will also have regard to the possible cumulative effects with any existing or approved development. There are occasions where the existence of other development may be particularly relevant in determining whether significant effects are likely, or even where more than one application for development should be considered together to determine whether or not EIA is required.
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