The amended EIA directive - enshrining best practice?

26th September 2014

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Local government ,
  • Property ,
  • Construction ,
  • Consultancy


Christopher Hayes

Adams Hendry argues the revamped directive will not reinvent the wheel

The amended Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (2014/52/EU) came into force on 15 May 2014.

Adams Hendry reflects on some of the amendments to the screening and scoping procedures and the introduction of EIA monitoring, and suggests they reflect existing best practice rather than a major step change in EIA practice.


Amendments to the screening process include the requirement for additional information to be submitted by the developer.

This additional information is set out in Article 4, Annex II.A and Annex III and in general consists of a description of the project, baseline, likely significant effects and relationship to the selection criteria set out in Annex III.

There have been media reports that the additional information requirements mean that promoters will effectively have to submit “mini EIAs” at the screening stage.

While the requirements of the amended directive go beyond the current regulations, there is clearly an argument that to demonstrate the likelihood of significant environment effects submitting the information specified in Annex II.A is advisable and best practice.

There are also advantages to considering the environmental implications of a project more thoroughly early in the process.

Early liaison with technical specialists could lead to design changes that avoid significant environmental effects, for example, limiting the need for costly mitigation. But in our experience this already happens more often than not.

Scoping opinion

The requirement for EIA reports to reflect scoping opinions, where they have been sought, seems a minor change, but does raise some interesting issues.

Development projects are often changed and refined during the EIA process.

Not all these changes will affect the scope of an EIA report, but there will be occasions where they prompt a reconsideration of the topics in the assessment or the EIA methodology.

In most cases, promoters already have the flexibility to decide to seek a new scoping opinion if things change, and this decision often comes down to practical matters such as time and cost constraints.

Under the amended directive, promoters and practitioners will have to consider carefully the timing of a formal scoping request; seeking an opinion too early could lead to multiple requests.

But again, arguably the practical effect of the change is limited, since to be of real value the content and timing of scoping requests requires careful consideration.

While it is generally accepted that there is clear benefit in seeking a scoping opinion - because it provides promoters and their advisers with confidence that their environmental report will cover the necessary issues and report the impacts correctly - will the amended directive actually discourage scoping?

Since the amended directive does not make scoping mandatory but does introduce a “binding” element, some promoters may choose to opt out of the process.

But this could be counterproductive, potentially increasing the likelihood that decision makers will have to seek further information and evidence in the determination period.


The amended directive introduces a requirement to ensure mitigation and compensation measures are implemented and that effects generated are monitored.

It is not clear how this provision will work in practice as it has been left to member states to sort out the details.

This requirement does raise questions about how often will monitoring be required to take place, what form of documentation will be required, how this information be reported to the relevant authority and what the consequences will be if the mitigation doesn’t meet the expectations of the EIA.

There are also the practical implications for the promoter/developer in undertaking monitoring and reporting. As well as their own costs, will they have to take on the cost the authority will incur when it has to review this information?

In its summary of the amended directive on its website, the European Commission explains that existing monitoring arrangements can be used to avoid duplication and unnecessary costs.

It could be argued that in England monitoring is already adequately covered by controls imposed by planning and consent mechanisms.

But in practice the imposition of conditions or the use of legal agreements is not consistent across local planning authorities or in the decisions made by other consenting authorities.

Furthermore, conditions and agreements may not always fully reflect the mitigation and compensation proposed in an Environmental Statement.

While the amended Directive will bring about changes in EIA practice when it is transposed into UK law, these changes mostly confirm what is already best practice.

This article was written as a contribution to the EIA Quality Mark’s commitment to improving EIA practice.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Advice note on health impact assessments

An advice note on health impact assessments and health in environmental assessments is set to be published by IEMA soon.

31st May 2024

Read more

IEMA’s Impact Assessment Network is delighted to have published A Roadmap to Digital Environmental Assessment.

2nd April 2024

Read more

Lisa Pool on how IEMA is shaping a sustainable future with impact assessment

27th November 2023

Read more

IEMA responded in September to the UK government’s consultation on the details of the operational reforms it is looking to make to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) consenting process as put forward in the NSIP reform action plan (February 2023).

24th November 2023

Read more

Members of IEMA’s Impact Assessment Network Steering Group have published the 17th edition of the Impact Assessment Outlook Journal, which provides a series of thought pieces on the policy and practice of habitats regulations assessment (HRA).

26th September 2023

Read more

In July, we published the long-awaited update and replacement of one of IEMA’s first published impact assessment guidance documents from 1993, Guidelines for the Environmental Assessment of Road Traffic.

1st August 2023

Read more

Are we losing sight of its intended purpose and what does the future hold for EIA? Jo Beech, Tiziana Bartolini and Jessamy Funnell report.

15th June 2023

Read more

Luke Barrows and Alfie Byron-Grange look at the barriers to adoption of digital environmental impacts assessments

1st June 2023

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close