Marine licensing and consenting - Environmental Impact Assessment: overview

Information on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements for marine licences and section 36 consents.

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Certain marine licence or section 36 consent projects require an Environmental Impact Assessment under the relevant EIA Regulations.

The EIA Regulations define EIA projects as works which are either schedule 1 works or schedule 2 works likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as their nature, size or location.

Relevant legislation that applies to EIA projects:

An EIA is required for Schedule 2 works which are those of a description in Schedule 2 of the relevant regulations, which meet or exceed any threshold or criteria in the schedule or are located in a ‘sensitive area’ such as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA), a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), marine protected area (MPA) or a National Scenic Area (NSA).

Unless an applicant has already decided to submit and EIA Report alongside an application, Schedule 2 works must be ‘screened’ to determine if an EIA is required. Marine Scotland – Licensing Operations Team (MS-LOT) will ‘screen’ a project and adopt a ‘screening opinion’. Where a prospective applicant requests MS-LOT to adopt a screening opinion, the request must contain:

a) a description of the location of the proposed works, including a plan sufficient to identify the area in which the works are proposed to be sited

b) a description of the proposed works, including, in particular

i) a list of all of the regulated activities which are proposed

ii) a description of the physical characteristics of the proposed works and, where relevant, works to be decommissioned, and

iii) a description of the location of the proposed works, with particular regard to the environmental sensitivity of geographical areas likely to be affected

c) a description of the aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected by the proposed works, and

d) a description of any likely significant effects, to the extent of the information available on such effects, of the proposed works on the environment resulting from either, or both, of the following:

i) the expected residues and emissions and the production of waste, where relevant

ii) the use of natural resources, in particular soil, land, water and biodiversity

Failure to include the above information in a request for a screening opinion is likely to delay the adoption of a ‘screening opinion’ by MS-LOT.

Applicants should contact MS-LOT to discuss a project if they consider that an EIA or screening might be required for the project.

If a project is screened in to EIA (or an applicant intends to carry out EIA without screening) then, although not mandatory, a scoping process should be followed to agree the scope of the EIA report to be submitted in support of an application. When an EIA report is submitted, this must be based on the scoping opinion.

Applications for marine licences or section 36 consents which constitute an EIA project will not be accepted unless accompanied by an EIA report. 


See MS-LOT's contact details.

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