Most developers of major schemes encounter the process of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which considers the potential significant environmental effects of development proposals in decision making. In such cases the requirement for an EIA can only be avoided where no likely significant effects can be demonstrated.
Screening is the first of five broad stages to the EIA process:
3. Preparing an Environmental Statement
4. Making a Planning Application and Consultation
5. Decision Making
At the Screening stage the Local Planning Authority (LPA) determines whether a proposed scheme is likely to have a significant effect of the environment and therefore requires a full EIA assessment.
At Jomas we recommend to our clients that the EIA screening request is made at an early stage in project development so that any EIA requirements can inform project feasibility and be accommodated within the project programme. Should the LPA screening opinion be positive, and an EIA be required, there will be implications for the project programme and budget, including time needed for required technical studies, Environmental Statement preparation, and the planning determination period.
Although the requirements of the EIA regime are generally more detailed and require more effort than a non-EIA planning application, the process need not be cumbersome if it well managed. Therefore, to ensure the procedure can be planning and achieved in the most efficient way, the EIA screening should not be treated as a last-minute ‘box ticking’ exercise.