Environmental impact assessment requirements derive form European Union law and are binding on the organs of the State including, local authorities. Local authorities require approval from Bord Pleanála of its environmental impact assessment. The Board may grant or refuse approval or attach conditions.
Certain development requires an environmental impact assessment below certain thresholds, only if it would be likely to have significant effects on the environment. The local authority should itself consider whether an environmental impact assessment is appropriate in the circumstances. Bord Pleanála may require an assessment if one should properly be made, notwithstanding that it is below the relevant thresholds.
Where an environmental impact assessment is made, the local authority must give notice of the proposal in a number of newspapers. It should indicate the nature and extent of the development, that an EIS has been prepared and that submissions and observations may be made to Bord Pleanála relating to the implications of the development for proper and sustainable development and is effects on the environment. The EIS itself, must be available for inspection for a period.
The local authority and the EIS must send a copy of notice and observations to the Board. The Board may require further information and a more detailed environmental impact assessment. It may require the publication of further notices where new material arises and may require an additional period for submission of observations.
Bord Pleanála determines the matter, having regard to the environmental impact assessment, effects on the environment, likely consequences for proper and sustainable planning and the views of State and certain other authorities. Where there is an oral report, the report and recommendations of the inspector are taken into account.
Where a local authority development requires compulsory acquisition, there may be a hearing by Bord Pleanala in the context of confirmation of the CPO, if objections are made. See generally the sections on compulsory acquisition.
Generally, a local authority may not contravene its own development plan. There are certain overriding statutory obligations which mandate certain public works, notwithstanding that that they may be inconsistent with the development plan.
An environmental impact assessment is carried out by the planning authority or the Board, as the case may be, in respect of an application for consent for proposed development where either the proposed development would be of a class specified or where the planning authority or the Board, as the case may be, determines that the proposed development would be likely to have significant effects on the environment.
The requirement applies to development that may be carried out by a local authority and development on the foreshore
A planning authority shall refuse to consider an application to retain unauthorised development of land where the authority decides that if an application for permission had been made in respect of the development concerned before it was commenced the application would have required that one or more than one of the following was carried out—
An applicant for consent to carry out a proposed development in the above categories shall furnish an environmental impact statement to the planning authority or the Board, as the case may be, in accordance with the permission regulations. In carrying out an environmental impact assessment ion the planning authority or the Board, as the case may be, shall consider—
- the environmental impact statement;
- any submissions or observations validly made in relation to the environmental effects of the proposed development;
- the views, if any, provided by any other Member State made under that section.
Subject to EIA; Water and Dams
- Works for the transfer of water resources between river basins, where this transfer aims at preventing possible shortages of water and where the amount of water transferred exceeds 100 million cubic metres per year.
- In all other cases, works for the transfer of water resources between river basins, where the multi-annual average flow of the basin of abstraction exceeds 2,000 million cubic metres per year and where the amount of water transferred exceeds 5 per cent of this flow. In the cases above, transfers of piped drinking water are excluded.
- Dams and other installations designed for the holding back or permanent storage of water, where a new or additional amount of water held back or stored exceeds 10 million cubic metres.
Subject to EIA; Agriculture, Silviculture and Aquaculture
- Development consisting of the carrying out of drainage and/or reclamation of wetlands where more than 2 hectares of wetlands would be affected.
- Replacement of broadleaf high forest by conifer species, where the area involved would be greater than 10 hectares.
- Deforestation for the purpose of conversion to another type of land use, where the area to be deforested would be greater than 10 hectares of natural woodlands or 70 hectares of conifer forest.
- Seawater fish breeding installations with an output which would exceed 100 tonnes per annum; all fish breeding installations consisting of cage rearing in lakes; all fish breeding installations upstream of drinking water intakes; other freshwater fish breeding installations which would exceed 1 million smolts and with less than 1 cubic metre
- per second per 1 million smolts low flow diluting water.
- Reclamation of land from the sea, where the area of reclaimed land would be greater than 10 hectares.
Subject to EIA; Extractive Industry
- Peat extraction which would involve a new or extended area of 30 hectares or more.
- Extraction of stone, gravel, sand or clay, where the area of extraction would be greater than 5 hectares.
- All extraction of minerals within the meaning of the Minerals Development Acts, 1940 to 1999.
- Extraction of stone, gravel, sand or clay by marine dredging (other than maintenance dredging), where the area involved would be greater than 5 hectares or, in the case of fluvial dredging (other than maintenance dredging), where the length of river involved would be greater than 500 metres.
Subject to EIA; Drilling
With the exception of drilling for investigating the stability of the soil, deep drilling, consisting of
- geothermal drilling,
- drilling for the storage of nuclear waste material,
- drilling for water supplies, where the expected supply would exceed 2 million cubic metres per annum, or
- certain other deep drilling, except where, in considering whether or not an environmental impact assessment should be carried out.