Strategic Impact Assessment (SIA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) maps out the environmental impact of a plan or project before the government takes a decision. As such, the environmental interest is included in the decision-making. The research results are included in a report, also called an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The abbreviation “EIA” refers therefore to both the procedure as well as the final report.

An environmental impact assessment is an instrument to support decision-making about a plan or project. An EIA is therefore not an end in itself, but is always linked to a decision to be taken, such as establishing a zoning plan or granting a permit. In addition to providing information about environmental effects, the function of an EIA is also streamlining different procedures.

The EIA procedure consists of several steps. The competent authority is responsible for the procedure. The initiators of a project are of course involved in the process and are responsible for drawing up the EIA. One of the first steps of an EIA procedure is the preparation and publication of the (draft) Memorandum on Scope and Level of Detail (NRD). The NRD discusses the ‘why’ of the plan/project and indicates what and how this will be investigated.

The EIA procedure must be completed for projects or plans with significant environmental consequences. The C and D lists in the EIA Decree state which activities, what size and which plans and/or decisions an EIA procedure is mandatory for. It may be a plan EIA or a project EIA.

Is an Appropriate Assessment necessary for a change or determination of a destination or integration plan? Regardless of the nature and scope of the activity, this is an EIA obligation.

An EIA review is a test by the competent authority to determine whether potentially significant adverse environmental consequences may arise during a proposed activity. If these cannot be excluded, an EIA obligation applies. The EIA review step can be skipped if an EIA procedure is chosen immediately. Pondera can help determine whether a project has an EIA (review) obligation.

When is an EIA, EIA review or form-free EIA review required?

Based on national and European legislation, an EIA is prescribed for projects with potentially significant environmental impacts. The C and D lists of the EIA Decree state when an EIA or EIA review is required.

This obligation depends on:

  • the nature and scope of the activity;
  • the location;
  • the decisions to be taken;
  • and – in the case of a plan – whether an Appropriate Review is required.

The establishment of a wind farm is one of the activities that may involve an EIA obligation, an EIA review obligation or a form-free EIA review. But this may also be necessary for a solar field or other activities.

A form-free EIA review applies to all activities that appear on the D-list of the EIA Decree, remain below the threshold value and are made possible by a decision (permit) in column 4.

For both the EIA review and the form-free EIA review, the competent authority assesses whether the activity could have significant adverse environmental effects. The (sub)criteria to be considered are in Annex III of the European directive ‘on the environmental assessment of certain public and private projects’ (Directive 2011/92 / EU <link: : https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/NL/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32011L0092>)). This concerns the characteristics of the project, the location of the project and the characteristics of the potential effect.