Environmental Impact Assessment
When is an environmental impact assessment needed?
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a procedure that must be adhered too for certain types of development before they are granted development consent.
The procedure requires you to compile an Environmental Statement (ES) describing the likely significant effects of the development on the environment and what proposed mitigation measures will be utilised.
Information and advice on the need for an environmental impact assessment is available within the Governments National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) and the European Commission website.
Where there is a possibility that a proposed development will require an environmental impact assessment, developers in Stevenage are advised to consult with us well in advance of a planning application.
You can decide for yourself whether a given project falls within the scope of the Regulations and that an Environmental Statement will be needed. But the regulations also provide a procedure which enables you to apply to us for an opinion (“Screening Opinion”) on whether an EIA is needed for your development. For this, you must provide as a minimum, a plan of the site of the proposed development, a brief description of its nature and purpose, and what its effects would have on the environment. This can, of course, be supplemented with other information if the developer wishes.
Where such information can be provided, then you may approach us at any time for an opinion of the need for an EIA. This can be done well in advance of any formal planning application, although any approach to us before the planning application stage is entirely voluntary. Where such an approach is made, we must give our opinion within three weeks, unless you agree a longer period. We may request further information from you, but in itself does not extend the three-week time limit, unless you agree to an extension of time.
If we do not issue a screening opinion within the three week period, or any extended period, you are entitled to ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to make a screening direction on the grounds that we failed to issue an opinion in the statutory time limit.
Information to be included
Information and advice on the content of an Environmental Statement is available within the Governments NPPG.
You should discuss with us and any statutory consultees the scope of an Environmental Statement before starting to prepare it.
The Regulations enable you, before making a planning application to us, to ask us for a formal opinion (“Scoping Opinion”) on the information which needs to be included in an Environmental Statement. You can therefore be clear what we may consider what the environmental impacts of a development would be. The request maybe made at the same time as the screening opinion, and as a minimum must be accompanied by a plan for the proposed development site, a brief description of its nature and purpose, and of its possible effects on the environment. This can, of course, be supplemented with other information as well.
We must adopt the scoping opinion within five weeks of receiving the request, unless you agree with us to a longer period. We may request for further information, but this does not extend the five week limit, unless you agree to an extension of time. During this time we must consult with certain bodies and you as the developer before adopting a scoping opinion.
If we do not issue a scoping opinion within the five week period, or any extended period, you are entitled to ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to make a scoping direction on the grounds that we failed to issue an opinion within the statutory time limit.
It is important to note that if we have adopted a scoping opinion, you are responsible for the content of the statement which is finally submitted to us. You should bear in mind that we have powers to call for additional information when considering Environmental Statements and planning applications, and that we are likely to use those powers if we consider aspects of a submitted Environmental Statement are inadequate.
Development Management Team
Stevenage Borough Council