Information Leaflet 5: Environmental Impact Assessment
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a method for ensuring that the likely effects of new development on the environment are fully understood and taken into account before consent is given for the development to proceed. EIA has been incorporated into the consent procedures for certain projects in the UK to give effect to a Directive agreed by the UK Government, and other Member States of the European Community. The Directive 85/337/EEC came into effect in July 1998. It has since been amended by Directive 97/11/EC, Directive 2003/35/35/EC; and Directive 2009/31/EC. These Directives have now been consolidated into one Directive 2011/92/EC.
The Regulations implementing the directive for projects which require planning permission in Northern Ireland are the Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 (the "EIA Regulations") which came into effect on 13 March 2012. The EIA Regulations consolidate, with amendments, the provisions of the Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999 (the 1999 Regulations) and subsequent amending regulations. This leaflet answers some basic questions about the requirement for EIA in these Regulations for projects subject to planning permission.
Other major proposals not covered by the planning procedures may also need EIA before a decision is reached on whether they should go ahead. Examples of these are certain drainage schemes, motorways, afforestation and harbour development below the low watermark. Separate Regulations cover these types of projects.