Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process of examining the anticipated environmental effects of a proposed project - from consideration of environmental aspects at design stage, through consultation and preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR), evaluation of the EIAR by a competent authority, the subsequent decision as to whether the project should be permitted to proceed, encompassing public response to that decision.

An EIAR is a report or statement of the effects, if any, which the proposed project, if carried out, would have on the environment. 

The projects which require EIA are listed in Annex I and Annex II of the EIA Directive as amended.

Projects listed in Annex I of the EIA Directive have manadatory EIA requirements.  Each Member State decides on a case-by-case basis whether Annex II projects require an EIA.  Thresholds have been set for Annex II projects in Irish legislation.  But even projects which do not meet the threshold may require an EIA if the project is likely to have significant effects on the environment.

The Annex I and  Annex II projects have been transposed into Section 5 (Parts 1 and 2) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended.

Note:  All Environmental Impact Assessment Reports submitted ot the EPA on or after the 16th May 2017 must meet the requirements of Directive 2014/52/EU.

  

The EPA and EIA

The EPA's role in EIA is linked to that of the planning authority/An Bord Pleanala (PA/ABP).

The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government issued a circular letter (dated 15th May 2017, PL 1/2017) to planning authorities and An Bord Pleanala related to Advice on Administrative Provisions in Advance of Transposition.  All applicants involved in preparting an EIAR should familiarise themselves with the new requirements.  The circular letter is available for download here

Licensing Role

The EPA is a competent for EIA.  For Integrated Pollution Control (IPC), Industrial Emissions (IE) and Waste licence applications, where the activity is also a project which requires EIA, the Agency must conduct an assessment of the application for the purposes of EIA as respects the matters that come within the functions of the Agency.  The EIA assessment may be carried out in part or whole by way of consultation with, or submission of observations to the PA or ABP.     The EPA is also a competent authority for certain Waste Water Discharges Licence (WWDL) applications.

Statutory Consultee Role

The EPA is a statutory consultee to An Bord Pleanala.  Therefore, the EPA may make observations/submissions to An Bord Pleanala in relation to EIARs for Local Authority developments and strategic infrastructure developments which comprise an IPC, IE or Waste licenseable activity.  In addition, the EPA may provide advice on what should be contained within an EIAR for strategic infrastructure developments, state developments, gas infrastructure or an IPC, IE or Waste licensable activity, when requested to do so by the Planning Authority or An Bord Pleanala.  Such notifications and requests should be directed to the Environmental Licensing Programme, Office of Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Inspectorate, Inniscarra, Co Cork.

Draft Guidelines on the information to be contained in the Environmental Impact Assessment Reports (EIAR) will be available shortly.

The EPA and Planning

Planning Authorities or Local Authorities send notifications to the EPA in relation to proposed developments associated with IPC, IE and Waste licensable activities.  The EPA may make submissions/observations on these notices.  Proposed developments such as road, group water schemes, wind farms and housing schemes are not licensable activities and in these circumstances the EPA should not be notified.

The EPA will respond to a notice from An Bord Pleanala regarding a planning application for a development comprising of a waste licensable activity.

A Planning Authority or An Bord Pleanala may request the EPA to make observations in relation to a proposed development that, in their assessment, is likely to have a significant impact on waste water discharges.  The EPA will make observations on the assessment undertaken.

Such notifications and requests should be directed to Environmental Licensing Programme, Office of Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Inspectorate, Inniscarra, Co Cork.

The EPA and Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID)

Strategic infrastructure development (SID) can generally be described as development which is of strategic economic or social importance to the State or a region.  Such developments are covered by the Planning & Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.

In relation to SID, An Bord Pleanala may consult the EPA on transboundary aspects and shall consult the EPA on the content of an EIS where a request for an opinion was made in writing to An Bord Pleanala.  The EPA may make observations/submissions to An Bord Pleanala in relation to an EIAR for an IPC, IE or Waste licensable SID that has been submitted directly by an applicant.  Any such submissions should be directed to the Environmental Licensing Programme, Office of Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Inspectorate, Inniscarra, Co Cork.

More information on strategic infrastructure development is available on the An Bord Pleanala website.

Learn more

Download the Draft Guidelines on the information to be contained in Environmental Impact Assessment Reports (EIAR), the guidelines will be available shortly.

Find out about Strategic Environmental Assessment

Read the European Commission's information on EIA and SEA

Download the Codified EIA Directive (2011/92/EU)

Find out about Licensing and Permitting

Legislation pertaining to EIA may be found on the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Authority and on the Irish Statute Book website.

EIA thresholds may be found in the Unofficial Consolidation of Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2013 - http://www.environ.ie/en/Legislation/DevelopmentandHousing/Planning/FileDownLoad,32879,en.pdf