The Town & Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 (“the EIA Regulations”)
What is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
EIA is the name of the process for drawing together an assessment of significant environmental effects that are likely to arise from a proposed development. The aim of EIA is to protect the environment to ensure that the environmental implications of decision making on development proposals, both positive and negative, are known by the planning authority and are taken into account before decisions are made. EIA requires options to prevent, reduce or mitigate any adverse impacts to be considered and included to off-set any significant environmental impacts that are identified.
EIA is only required in certain circumstances, the formal process for notifying which development proposals require to undertake this assessment are what should be included within it and how to make a decision on such projects are set out in the following Regulations:
Further guidance to assist in understanding these regulations is set out in:
Planning Circular 1/2017: Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations
Within the EIA Regulations there are five main stages to the EIA process:
• Screening - this is a process applicants or developers use to confirm with the Council (as planning authority) whether a project needs EIA or not. This can be requested by using our form Screening Request Form. We have 21 days to adopt a Screening Opinion.
Developments falling within categories described in ‘Schedule 2’ that meet the applicable thresholds may require EIA. To undertake this assessment, applicants may submit a request for a Screening opinion. This process will consider whether the proposal will likely have a significant effect on the environment by virtue of its characteristics (such as its size and nature), the location (land uses or within or near to environmentally sensitive areas) and the potential impacts (the scale and nature of the impacts). Selection criteria are provided in Schedule 3 of the EIA Regulations.
All developments falling within ‘Schedule 1’ of the EIA Regulations will always require EIA and do not need to be screened. Such development may advance to the Scoping or EIA preparation stage.
• Scoping: an applicant or developer may request the Council to provide a Scoping Opinion for all Schedule 1 development and those Schedule 2 developments that re screened where EIA has been identified to be required. This can be requested by completing our Scoping request form. We have 35 days to adopt a Scoping Opinion.
This process is recommended by the Council for all EIA development to identify specific environmental topics or known sensitivities to be specifically assessed and reported (such as impacts on the landscape, noise, transport etc.) to avoid delays and uncertainties processing a planning application. The Council will consult with certain bodies as part of this process such as SNH and SEPA.
• Preparing an EIA Report (EIAR): this is the process of preparing the EIA Report, pulling all the information together and presenting it in a cohesive form that meets the requirements of the EIA regulations. An EIAR must be based on a Scoping Opinion where one has been adopted by the Planning Authority. It must be prepared by competent experts and be accompanied by statements to verify the expertise and qualifications of such experts. A separate Non-Technical Summary (NTS) must also be prepared as part of the EIAR.
• Submission of a planning application: an application for planning permission for EIA development must be accompanied by an EIAR. The Council cannot grant permission for EIA development without consideration of environmental impacts as assessed through an EIAR. Where an EIAR is required and has not been submitted the Council will allow 21 days for the report to be submitted. The submission of an EIAR is advertised in the Edinburgh Gazette and local newspapers. Interested parties have 30 days to comment on the report.
• Decision Making: The Council has a statutory duty to have regard to the EIAR, and any supplementary environmental information it may require, in considering the likely or potential environmental impacts when assessing a planning application against planning policy and other material considerations. This appraisal will be included in any ‘Report of Handling’ or committee report. When an EIA application is determined, we will also provide information with any decision notice information about the development and, a summary of the environmental information and consultations undertaken. If we grant planning permission, we will also give a reasoned conclusion for granting permission and specify any planning conditions, mitigation measures or monitoring measures that the developer is required to comply with.
• Submission Requirements: To assist with the processing of your application we request that all documents are submitted in PDF format via the ePlanning portal (www.eplanning.scot) and large submissions should be submitted on a pen-drive or CD.
Completed EIA Screening or Scoping Request Forms and information Submissions should be sent to:
Economic Growth & Development
The Moray Council
PO Box 6760, Elgin