3. Key Principles
3.1 The following key principles should underpin the EIA of individual development proposals, and are further considered within this Planning Advice Note:
- Integration ( section 4); Meeting the requirements of the EIA Regulations should form the starting point for any EIA, and timing and delivery of EIA outputs at appropriate stages in the wider development management process are key to achieving this. At the same time, Planning Authorities, the Consultation Bodies, and developers alike will wish to ensure the full benefits of EIA are realised through the early consideration of environmental issues before any planning application is submitted. EIA is an iterative process which aims to ensure early consideration of environmental issues at all stages of project development. In this way, EIA can lead to improvements in design, including the integration of mitigation measures, which can lead to cost and other resource savings. EIA can also generate added value by delivering net environmental gain, as well as providing a framework for engaging with the public.
- Proportionality ( section 5); EIAs should be fit for purpose. Excessively long, repetitive and poorly co-ordinated EIA Reports can prove a barrier to informed decision-making. EIA Reports are by their very nature technical documents, equally however they must be written in a manner that is accessible to the planning authority as the decision-maker; to the Consultation Bodies, and also to the public. Proportionality can best be achieved by seeking information from the planning authority and the Consultation Bodies on the scope of the assessment, paying attention to their views from the outset, and by focusing on the significant environmental effects of the proposed development. Developers and their agents, planning authorities and the EIA consultation bodies all have responsibilities in this respect.
- Efficiency ( section 6); Through its early consideration of the likely environmental effects of development plan allocations, SEA provides new opportunities to strengthen and streamline project level EIA, particularly at screening and scoping stages and by highlighting any strategic mitigation measures which may be relevant at project design stage. Early identification of other project-level assessment or information requirements, including any surveys required to be undertaken, can also help to identify opportunities for greater co-ordination, and help to minimise subsequent delays.