Environmental Impact Assessment and the Habitats Directive
Environmental Impact Assessment and the Habitats Directive

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment and the Habitats Directive
  • Introduction
  • Key legislative framework
  • The focus of the Habitats Directive
  • Habitats protection: 'European sites' and the 'appropriate assessment' requirement
  • Differences between the two regimes
  • Similarities between the two regimes
  • Coordinated procedures
  • Brexit and EIA/AA

Produced in partnership with Heather Sargent of Landmark Chambers

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this content. For further guidance, see Brexit and EIA/AA below, Practice Note: Brexit—the implications for English and Welsh planning law and practice or visit the Planning area of the Brexit toolkit.


Where EU law (as transposed into domestic law) requires an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of a proposed development project to be undertaken, that assessment will often consider the potential effects of the proposed development project upon protected habitats and species. However, the Habitats Directive imposes a separate legislative regime which is particularly concerned to avoid adverse effects on protected habitats and species. This Practice Note explores the way in which the EIA and the habitats legislative schemes interact and the differences between the relevant provisions.

See also Practice Notes:

Environmental impact assessments—key points

Environmental impact assessment—screening and scoping

Preparing an environmental statement

Procedure for submitting and determining an environmental statement

Directive 2014/52/EU on environmental impact assessment

Appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive

Implementation of the Habitats Directive in England and Wales

Derogations under the Habitats Directive

Key legislative framework

EIA: EU and