What is Environmental Assessment?
Environmental Assessment (EA) is the process by which your local authority will gather and consider information about the environmental effects of your development proposal.
Where proposals are likely to have significant effects upon the environment, it will be necessary to provide an ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT (E.S.) to accompany the planning application.
Certain forms of development [known as 'Schedule 1 Projects'] will always require an EA, whilst a larger group of development proposals [known as 'Schedule 2 Projects'] may require an EA in circumstances where the development is considered likely to have a 'significant effect on the environment'.
A list of Schedule 1 and 2 Projects may be reviewed at 'EA Projects'.
For straightforward domestic planning applications there is little likelihood of the need for an EA. However, each and every planning application submitted after March 1999 will be assessed against EA requirements in order to determine the need for an ES. The following criteria will generally be applied:
How do I know if an EA is Necessary?
Because of the scale or nature of the proposal you may consider at the outset that an EA will be necessary. You should discuss the scope of the assessment with the local planning authority, before writing your Environmental Statement in order to ensure you cover all the issues the Council consider will be necessary. Specialist advice may be necessary.
If you are uncertain whether an EA is required, you can consult the Council informally, or write to the local planning office requesting a formal determination on the issue. You should outline the proposal in sufficient detail for the Council officers to decide on the matter. The planning department will advise you on the procedure. No fee is payable for an opinion concerning the need for an EA.
In the majority of cases the local planning authority will assess the planning application when it is submitted and inform the applicant of the need for an EA.
You may appeal to the Secretary of State if you disagree with the Councils view that an EA is required or if the Council fail to provide you with a formal determination within 3 weeks.
To establish whether an EA is required click here
Why is this important?
The EA will provide detailed information and an assessment of the project and its likely effects upon the environment. This will help the local authority in their decision making on the planning application. It will also highlight issues that the applicant should take into account. This may result in the application being redesigned to suit the circumstances Local public concerns may also be allayed by the application clearly addressing the identified environmental issues.
Where an applicant submits an ES with the application, there is a requirement to advertise the fact in the local newspaper, indicating where copies may be inspected. The public have 28 days within which to submit comments. There is a requirement that all ES's should be written in a non-technical manner, so that the general public may understand the findings.
No Need for an EA?
Even though there may be no requirement to undertake an EA, the local authority will still assess the environmental impact of your proposals in the normal way. The fact that your particular scheme does not need to be accompanied by an EA, is not an indication that there will be no environmental effects whatsoever.
Even though planning permission may not normally be required, since 1995 certain forms of permitted development have required consideration under the Town & Country Planning (Environmental Assessment and Permitted Development) Regulations 1995.
The majority of permitted development projects requiring an EA will fall within Schedule 2: i.e. they will be judged against their likelihood of having a significant effect upon the environment. [See also details at EAPD]
Ask yourself the following questions:
If not then planning permission is required and the application will be assessed under EA provisions as set out above.
EA IS REQUIRED. Permitted Development Rights do not apply in these circumstances and a planning application accompanied by an ES is necessary.
EA is not required and normal Permitted Development Rights apply.
Environmental Assessments: A Guide to the Procedure [HMSO]
Your Permitted Development Rights & Environmental Assessment (DETR) - Free leaflet.
Environmental Assessment - A Guide (Scottish Office) - Free leaflet
Schedule 1 Projects:
Are those for which an EA is required in every case. They include projects such as:-
Oil Refineries, chemical and steel works, airports with a runway length exceeding 2100m and toxic waste or radioactive storage or disposal depots.
Schedule 2 Projects:
Are those for which an EA may be required if certain criteria are met or where it is judged that the proposal is likely to give rise to 'significant environmental effects'. They include projects such as:-
Ore extraction and mineral processing,
Reclamation of land from the sea,
Pig and poultry rearing units,
Waste disposal sites,
Chemical, food, textile or rubber industries,
Leisure developments such as large caravan parks,
Certain urban development proposals.
Permitted development must now be a subject to a planning application accompanied by an EA if it is likely to have a significant effect upon the environment.
The following permitted development is excluded:
Development under Part 7
Class D of Part 8
Class B of Part 12
Class F(a) of Part 17
Classes A & B of Part 20
Class B of Part 21
Works of land drainage improvement by a drainage body.
There may already be alternative arrangements in place for these types of permitted development.