Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for marine development: its purpose and our role

What is Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process for identifying the positive and negative environmental effects of a proposed development. It applies to projects which are likely to have significant effect on the environment due to their nature, size or location.

Information gathered by the EIA is provided to decision makers about the environmental impacts in an Environmental Statement (ES). This is used to help decide whether if a development should get consent to go ahead or not. This is done in consultation with organisations and the public.

Developers are responsible for carrying out an EIA.

The 2020 EIA Directive outline the procedure for EIA. The UK has different EIA Regulations for different regulatory regimes. Each set of EIA Regulations details specific requirements depending on the project type, scale and location. Marine developments can need several consents, meaning more than one set of EIA regulation can apply.

Stages of EIA process

EIA is a process made up of different stages. The key stages are:

  • EIA Screening – to determine if an EIA and submission of an ES is required. You can request a screening opinion from the decision-maker. The Schedules of the 2020 EIA Regulations set out developments requiring a mandatory EIA (Schedule 1) and developments which are subject to a screening process to determine if an EIA is necessary (Schedule 2). 
  • EIA Scoping – to determine the information to be assessed and documented in an ES. You can request a scoping opinion from the decision-maker. Scoping is an iterative process to narrow down the assessment to the significant effects.
  • Preparing and submitting the ES – the detailed assessment stage to determine what the likely significant environmental impacts from the project may be. The assessment findings, and how any scoping opinion considerations have been addressed, are documented in the ES and presented to the licensing authority.

Our roles in Environmental Impact Assessment

Across NRW, we have many roles and responsibilities. Our key roles in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for marine developments are as a:

  • Regulator: NRW’s Permitting Service is the regulator and appropriate authority, called here the ‘decision-maker’, for EIA marine developments that need a marine licence in Welsh waters. They are responsible for ensuring all scoping topics have been addressed
  • Advisor: NRW Advisory provide advice to decision-makers on EIA marine developments as a statutory consultee. We can also provide advice to developers through our discretionary advice service to help define the scope of assessment.

NRW Advisory’s remit covers only certain environment and natural resources receptor topics. You can ask the decision-maker for other organisations you may need to contact for receptor topic advice.

For EIA marine developments that need a marine licence in Wales, NRW is the decision-maker. Find how to apply for marine licensing and guidance on the EIA process.

Environmental Impact Assessment for marine developments

We provide information and good practice guidance on scoping an EIA for marine development projects (those below or partly below Mean High Water Springs).

This information is what NRW as a statutory advisor expect for EIA marine developments.

This guidance is not legal advice on EIA or advice about the application process.

You may need to get in touch with other decision-makers and organisation for EIA topics that are not covered by NRW Advisory.

Our approach to advising on an Environmental Impact Assessment

We aim to provide advice that positively influences developments and decision making to ensure that the marine environment and natural resources are sustainably maintained, enhanced and used, now and for the future. Our marine advice is based on using several principles to ensure the advice we provide is robust and proportionate.

Working with us

  • Engage at an early stage in project design – this can help us understand the development from the outset and ensure the scope of assessment is proportionate.
  • Plan your engagement with us – this helps us to plan our resources to be able to provide you with the service you may need.
  • Look at our existing guidance – our marine and coastal guidance may answer some of your queries and reduce the amount of additional information needed.
  • Provide complete and evidenced information – this reduces delays and the need to ask for more information about assessment methods and conclusions.
  • Allow enough time for consultation – this will mean we can consider the information and provide a robust response.
  • Provide accessible documents – where possible, provide us with electronic documents and GIS files. If documents are very large, please discuss with us before sending.

Contacting us

For project advice from our Development Planning and Marine Services, use the Discretionary Advice Service.

NRW holds data that may be helpful to you in developing the assessment of your project. Find out how to access data from NRW and information about the marine ecology datasets that we hold.

You can also contact our Marine Area Advice Management Team at marine.area.advice@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk for project advice. Explore our marine and coastal guidance before getting in contact.

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