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EPA Issues Draft Updated Guidance on EIA

The EPA is currently in the process of updating the existing guidance documents relating to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). These draft documents are intended to replace the existing documents; “Guidelines on the information to be contained in Environmental Impact Statements, 2002” and “Advice Notes on Current Practice in the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements, 2003”.

These documents will reflect the changes introduced by the new EIA Directive (2014/52/EU) in April 2014, along with other legislation which has been adopted since 2003.

Some of the key changes to the EIA process are as follows:


Fundamental Principles

Key aspects of the EIA have been revised in order to make the process more straightforward and adaptable. It is anticipated that by sharing more information more freely about the environment, problems can be foreseen and largely prevented during the design and consent stages. It is hoped that this will lead to greater protection of the environment through more informed decision-making.

The proposed principles which should now be followed when preparing an EIS are:

  • Anticipating, avoiding and reducing significant effects;
  • Assessing and mitigating effects;
  • Maintaining objectivity;
  • Ensuring clarity and quality;
  • Providing relevant information to decision makers;
  • Facilitating better consultation.


Topic Headings

The new guidance has updated the list of potential topics to be addressed in an EIS:

  • Population and Human Health (formerly human beings);
  • Biodiversity (formerly flora & fauna);
  • Land & Soils (formerly soils);
  • Water;
  • Air;
  • Climate;
  • Material Assets;
  • Cultural Heritage;
  • The Landscape.

Although the new EIA Directive (2014/52/EU) replaces the term environmental impact statement (or EIS) with the term environmental impact assessment report, the new Guidelines continue to use the term EIS as this is the established term and the term used in the current regulations.



The screening phase of the EIA has been amended in light of the new EIA Directive (2014/52/EU) and now includes; demolition works in the scope of the project, the inclusion of a formal screening procedure for all Annex II projects, and the requirement to justify all negative screening decisions.


EIA Quality

There is now a mandatory obligation on the developer to assess the alternative projects as part of the EIS. There is also a greater emphasis on quality control in the preparation and review of the EIS which is believed will result in a higher level of protection for the environment through a more informed decision-making processes.


Mitigation Monitoring

Another key change to the process is the post-EIA mitigation and monitoring programme. The relevant authority will now assess the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation plans through a monitoring programme and will take action in the event of a non-compliance. It is important therefore that mitigation measures are correctly costed and are achievable as failure to fully or effectively implement mitigation measures could lead to enforcement proceedings.


Competency of Experts

The new Directive requires that the developer shall ensure that “the environmental impact assessment report is prepared by competent experts”, however stops short of defining what would be considered competent expertise. Although this may change in the near future, for now this remains at the discretion of the competent authority. The new guidelines also require the inclusion of a list of experts in the EIS that have contributed to the EIA process, stating the topics to which they have contributed and their qualifications, experience and any other relevant credentials.

The two draft documents are linked below:

Revised Guidelines on the Information to be contained in Environmental Impact Statements Draft September 2015

Advice Notes for Preparing Environmental Impact Statements Draft September 2015

December 2015