An EIA is a critical, fundamental step in what constitutes environmental protection in many parts of the world. It is a transparent process that addresses the question of: Will a proposed project harm the environment and, if so, can the harm be mitigated or lessened. Importantly, the EIA assures public participation in the process and possible judicial review.
Within the European Union, the EIA requirement and process is embodied in EU Directive 2011/92/EU (13 Dec 20111) with certain major projects automatically subject to an EIA and with certain other projects subject to determination as to whether they are covered or not according to the local rules of Member States. The Aarhus Convention reinforced the EIA’s public participation and judicial review.
The EIA Directive applies to construction works or installations or schemes, or other interventions in the natural surroundings and landscape including those involving the extraction of mineral projects: developers of such projects; a decision by the competent authority; and the public. “The EIA procedure can be summarized as follows: the developer may request the competent authority to say what should be covered by the EIA information to be provided by the developer (scoping stage); the developer must provide information on the environmental impact (EIA report – Annex IV); the environmental authorities and the public (and affected Member States) must be informed and consulted; the competent authority decides, taken into consideration the results of consultations. The public is informed of the decision afterwards and can challenge the decision before the courts.”
In the United States, the functional equivalent of the EIA is EPA’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Some further ideas to explore on Environmental Impact Assessment:
Review the Directive, and especially the recent amendment in 2014, and determine:
Whether fracking activities require an EIA, and if so does the requirement apply to a collection of wells for fracking or each individual well or well pad;
Whether wind farms require an EIA, and if so, does the requirement apply to each wind turbine or to each wind farm.
If an EIA is not automatically required for fracking activities or wind farms, are there circumstances under which fracking and/or wind farms could be subject to an EIA.
DIRECTIVE 2011/92/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 13 December 2011on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (codification). eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32011L0092 As amended by DIRECTIVE 2014/52/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 16 April 2014. eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32014L0052
Good Energies Alliance Ireland, “The EIA Directive – details of vote: Amendments to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive.” goodenergiesalliance.com/2013/10/14/the-eia-directive-details-of-vote/
“Aarhus Convention” in iePEDIA section of irish environment magazine (September 2013) www.irishenvironment.com/iepedia/aarhus-convention/