In its role as a statutory consultee in the development planning process, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) systematically evaluates the likely environmental implications or impacts that may arise from a proposal for development consent. As part of its evaluation, ERA also seeks methods to avoid, reduce or mitigate adverse environmental impacts and aims to integrate relevant environmental considerations into the decision-making process. The resulting outcomes of this evaluation by the ERA is then referred to the Planning Authority, as part of the development permitting process.
Steps in Environmental Assessment of Development Proposals
1. Environmental vetting of cases
At the vetting stage, i.e. upon receipt of the consultation request from the Planning Authority; the ERA first determines whether the likely impacts of a development proposal are of environmental relevance and therefore require further evaluation by the same Authority.
2. Environmental screening
If the project is considered to be of environmental relevance following vetting; ERA carries out an evaluation to determine whether the proposal is acceptable from an environmental point of view, taking into account the relevant site context, applicable environmental legislation and policy, and the environmental implications of the project. As part of this process, ERA may also request the submission of additional information or revised plans in order to further enable the technical evaluation of development proposals.
3. Detailed assessments (i.e. does the application need to be subjected to further studies e.g. EIA, AA?)
As part of the evaluation of development proposals, ERA also screens developments against legally established criteria to determine whether these qualify for any detailed assessments, such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA).
Other ad hoc studies can be requested at this stage, including, e.g. an investigation of the site’s geotechnical stability, works method statements, restoration method statements, ecological surveys, benthic surveys, air quality studies, noise impact studies, etc.
Following such evaluation, the Planning Authority is notified accordingly as part of the consultation process and the case is processed in line with any relevant environmental legislation.