Environmental Impact Assessment
What is an Environmental Impact Assessment?
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a multi-disciplinary process designed to identify, characterise and quantify the likely effects of a proposed development on the environment. The formal output from the EIA process is a document called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which contains a detailed analysis of the effects of a specific development proposal on the environment. This report is commonly prepared in support of large scale planning applications or applications for development that is proposed within/adjacent to sensitive environmental receptors.
McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan Ltd. have wide-ranging experience at all stages of the EIA process, with the distinct advantage of being capable of completing the majority of the EIS sections in-house. With the necessary staff and experience, we can approach a project requiring an EIA/EIS with the broadest possible view of the potential impacts that might arise. We act as project managers in screening and scoping an EIA, and draw on our staff’s expertise to undertake a significant portion of the work necessary to complete the EIS document, including specialist planning, ecological, landscape and hydrological assessments. Rather than completing individual sections in isolation, the assessments are undertaken with a full knowledge of all project components in mind, allowing interacting impacts to be identified at the earliest possible stage, and avoiding delays where potential issues would have otherwise been unforeseen.
Why do I need to get an Environmental Impact Assessment?
European Legislation requires member states of the EU to carry out assessments of the environmental impact of certain public and private projects before they are allowed to go ahead. The Directive is implemented in Ireland by the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (as amended) and is governed by the European Communities (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations. The need to undergo Environmental Impact Assessment is closely linked with the Planning Process in the Irish jurisdiction.
Projects requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment are listed in the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (as amended) and typically include large infrastructural, industrial, commercial or urban developments. See below link for list of projects requiring EIA. An EIA can be required due to the specific nature of a proposed development or because the scale of the proposal exceeds a defined threshold for that form of development. Failure to undergo the EIA process and failure to include an EIS with a planning application for a form of development listed in the relevant regulations will lead to the planning application being invalidated by the Local Authority.
An EIA/EIS can also be required by a Local Authority for a development, which is not listed in the relevant regulations. In this instance, should a Planning Authority consider that a development due to its nature and location have the potential to have an impact on the environment they can request that an EIS be submitted. Such a request cannot lead to the application being invalidated but will at the very least cause delays for the project if not planned for.
Therefore prior to undertaking any application for a significant development it is important to consider whether the EIA process is applicable. McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan offer a vast range of experience in this area, our staff’s collective experience & knowledge put us in a position to fully inform clients in any area surrounding the EIA process and allow us to identify all requirements and mitigation measures.
What does the Environmental Impact Assessment process involve?
The EIA process involves the study of all aspects of the proposed development to fully assess the impacts that any proposed development will have on the environment.
The EIA process has several stages:
1. Screening (assessing whether an EIA is required),
2. Scoping (engaging with all relevant authorities and NGO’s)
3. Consultation (with the design team and stakeholders)
4. Report Preparation (EIS)
The output of the EIA process is the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will include a full description of the proposed development, set out the planning policy background and report on the findings of the overall process. The EIS will also include details of the interaction of all the separate studies.
Specifically the EIA process includes a detailed analysis of the receiving environment in terms of Human Beings/Socio- Economic, Hydrology & Hydrogeology, Geology, Flora and Fauna, Air, Climate and Noise, Landscape and Visual Impact, Cultural Heritage and Material Assets (such as traffic, retail Impact etc.).
The purpose of the EIA process is to inform the overall design of the proposed development to mitigate against any potential impacts on the environment and as such continuous feedback and review throughout is vital to the success of any project. McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan, due to our staff resource and expertise in both environmental and planning is ideally placed to assess and carry out the EIA process and identify any issue sthat should be addressed.
How long does an EIA take to complete? How long does an EIS take to complete?
Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the process and the intricacies of the various studies, which must feed into the final Environmental Impact Statement, a generic timeframe cannot be provided. Certain environmental and ecological studies may only be carried out during a particular season, and as such each project is highly individual in terms of the overall timeframe for delivery. Due to the expertise and experience available within McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan, we can ensure that the EIA process is carried out in a timely and comprehensive manner. Once preliminary details of the scheme have been confirmed and review of the site in question has been carried out, a detailed timeframe for carrying out the EIA process can be agreed.
How much does an EIA cost? How much does an EIS cost?
The EIA process involved in each development is highly specific to each project and as such a fee can be provided following a preliminary review of the project details and site location.
What type of outcome can I expect?
The outcome from the EIA process will be dependent on the type, scale and location of the proposed project/development. The process will inform the overall project design and will result in the provision of an Environmental Impact Statement containing a comprehensive set of mitigation measures addressing any environmental concerns. This document will provide a comprehensive analysis of the proposed development that can be relied upon and referred to by decision makers throughout the planning process.