Planning Advice Note 1/2013: Environmental Impact Assessment

Guidance on the integration of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures into the overall development management process (replaces PAN 58).

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6. More Efficient Resourcing

EIA and Habitats Regulations Appraisal

6.1 To reduce costs and avoid delay, any overlaps between EIA and other project level assessment or survey requirements should be identified at the earliest opportunity, and certainly at scoping stage. This could apply, for example, in cases affecting a European Site where a Habitat Regulations Appraisal is required under the Habitats Regulations [5] . In such cases the regulations specifically require the planning authority (or Scottish Ministers as the case may be) must where appropriate ensure the Habitats Regulation Appraisal and the EIA are coordinated. The EIA can help to avoid duplication by identifying early on whether there are any likely significant effects on a European site and - where this is the case - ensuring the EIA Report provides the information necessary to help the planning authority to make its assessment of whether a proposal is likely to have a detrimental effect on the conservation interest, and therefore whether they may grant planning permission for the proposal. [6] See 'further reading' for more information on Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA).


6.2 Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) of development plans offers an opportunity to strengthen and streamline subsequent EIAs undertaken at project level. By identifying environmental issues at strategic level, they may help to inform the screening and scoping stages of EIA, as well as providing an early indication of any additional survey work which may be required.

6.3 There is considerable potential for strengthening the links between SEA and EIA, to facilitate more proportionate approaches to project level planning and assessment. In particular, it may be useful to use the significant effects identified in a preceding SEA as a starting point for EIA screening and scoping at the project level. Strategic mitigation measures identified through the SEA can also help inform project-level design, where relevant. SEA also provides an ideal opportunity to explore potential for cumulative effects at an early stage in the process of developing multiple projects within a given area.

Key message: Environmental effects identified in a plan-level SEA can help to inform EIA screening and scoping at the project level.

Multi-regime consents

6.4 A small number of projects may require more than one consent which must be subject to EIA (a 'multi-regime consent'), for example an off-shore marine project with associated on-shore infrastructure. Where this is the case, early and effective engagement with all the relevant consenting authorities and Consultation Bodies will be particularly important. This will provide an opportunity to discuss which consents will be required; the applicant's proposed consenting strategy; and, the scope for coordinating the different consenting processes and their EIA requirements. In this way, all parties can seek to minimise duplication whilst ensuring the requirements of the individual EIA regulatory regimes are met in full. See 'further reading' for more information on good practice in multi-regime consents.

Costs and benefits of EIA

6.5 The requirement to undertake EIA can add to the overall cost of a project, as well as introducing additional procedures associated with the determination of the planning application. Equally however, EIA can add value by ensuring that consideration of environmental matters begins at the earliest opportunity, and ideally at project inception when EIA becomes a tool for sustainable design. Early action to embed mitigation measures fully into the project at design stage can help to generate cost savings. There are no statutory procedures associated with this preparatory stage, but it is undoubtedly one of the most important in ensuring the full value of EIA is realised to all concerned. Taking account of environmental considerations at this stage will ensure a better proposal and, where those considerations are clearly and concisely documented, should lead to a speedier determination of the application.


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