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T5.3: Integrating EIA into Large Development Projects

Whilst the submission of an Environmental Statement (ES) is part of the planning application process, consideration of environmental matters should begin at the project definition and preparation stage. Good practice in major development proposals indicates that, where required, EIA is most successful when fully integrated into the project management structure and design evolution of a proposal.  If environmental issues are considered at early stages in the development process, impacts can be significantly reduced and in some cases removed.  This enables EIA to become a useful tool in achieving sustainable design.
In this respect, the process of determining the content and scope of matters (scoping) to be covered by the EIA and set out in the ES is the link between screening and the eventual impact assessment of impacts and related mitigation.  An important element of the scoping process is the discounting of issues where significant effects are unlikely so that the EIA is streamlined and the resulting ES is focussed on the project and concise. 

The approach to scoping should build on and be part of the generation and analysis of the evidence base for the project as a whole.  The regulations allow for a request to the local authority for a 'scoping opinion' before a planning application is submitted.  It is good practice for the applicant / developer to submit a 'scoping report' with any such request, as this is likely to lead to a more informed 'scoping opinion'.  There is good advice on the content of a scoping report in the Guide to procedures. In general, the more information provided about the proposals and receiving environment the better: it should not just be a list of proposed ES topics/chapters.
There are often also major benefits for the overall delivery of projects where the upfront scheme design process properly incorporates environmental issues and possible mitigation upfront in the process (including a thorough screening and scoping process), resulting in EIA becoming an integral part of the project evolution and not just an assessment of a final design.
In the light of this, the attached flow chart (available to download below) illustrates where the key stages of the EIA process would ideally be integrated into the process of delivering large-scale development projects described in this Guide.

Last Updated on Monday 18/04/2011 - 11:05AM

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Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS), 2017