The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (2011/92/EU, as amended by 2014/52/EU) applies to all “public and private projects which are likely to have significant effects on the environment”. Specific examples of projects that may be covered are listed in Annexes I and II.
Scope of assessment
Environmental factors and risks that fall within the scope of the impact assessment report
According to Article 3 of the EIA Directive, the following factors should be considered in the EIA:
- population and human health;
- land, soil, water, air and climate;
- material assets, cultural heritage and the landscape; and
- the interaction between these factors.
Further, the effects on these factors shall take account of the vulnerability of the project to risks of major accidents and/or disasters that are relevant to the project concerned.
Article 5 and Annex IV of the EIA Directive set out what the EIA report must contain.
According to Article 5(3) of the EIA Directive, the developer must prepare and submit the EIA report. The developer must ensure that the EIA report is prepared by competent experts. In addition, the competent authority must ensure that it has access to sufficient expertise to examine the EIA report and, where necessary, must seek from the developer supplementary information needed to reach a reasoned conclusion on the significant effects of the project.
Article 6 of the EIA Directive requires the public to be informed and consulted on the EIA process. Specifically, the public must be provided with the information set out in Articles 6(2) and (3), and is entitled to express comments and opinions until such time as a decision is taken on the request for development consent. Specifically, the timeframe for consulting the public on the EIA assessment report shall be at least 30 days.
According to Article 11 of the EIA Directive, members of the public may, in accordance with the laws and procedures of the member state in question, bring a legal challenge to the substantive or procedural legality of decisions, acts or omissions that are subject to the public participation provisions in the directive. It is up to the member states to determine at what stage the decisions, acts or omissions may be challenged (ie, whether the EIA report itself is capable of being challenged, as opposed to the decision to grant or refuse development consent based on that EIA report).
Source – Lexology White & Case LLP