Environmental impact assessment
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What do you need to know about environmental impact assessments?
An environmental impact assessment is, basically, an assessment of the potential environmental impact of a new development project. They are usually required for larger developments and those which are likely to have a substantial environmental impact, such as a new housing development scheme or plans for a new road. Through EIA results, local authorities can stay fully aware of how a project submitted for approval will influence its local environment.
If you are unsure whether your project will need an EIA, your best option will be to request a ‘formal screening’ from your local planning authority. This will let you know if your project will require an assessment. The next stage is ‘scoping’, which will determine the extent of the issues to be assessed. Your local authority can also help here by providing a ‘scoping opinion’.
If you find that an assessment is required, the next stage will be to prepare your ‘environmental statement’. This will include all of the necessary information for your assessor, including a plan that identifies the land in question, a description of the nature and purpose of the proposal and a brief description of the potential environmental impact. Your local authority should be happy to provide any information it has on file. Following on from this, both your planning application and environmental statement will be publicised, so that the general public and the appropriate consultation bodies can have enough to time to voice any objections.
In order to avoid drawn out complications or expensive alterations, it is advised to enquire about whether you need an EIA while still in the early stages of your project. Based on the results of the EIA, your assessor should be able to provide advice on how your project can meet the necessary requirements.
When looking for a tradesman to provide an EIA, be sure to look out for any companies that are recognised by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). Having an EIA Quality Mark Accreditation from the IEMA indicates that the company operates to extremely high standards.