Environmental impact assessments—key points

The following Planning practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Environmental impact assessments—key points
  • Purpose
  • Legislation and guidance
  • When EIA is required
  • Schedule 1 and schedule 2 projects
  • Voluntary EIA
  • Development covered by the regulations
  • EIA orders and permissions
  • Planning conditions can indicate need for EIA
  • Pre-commencement conditions
  • More...

Environmental impact assessments—key points

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on subjects potentially impacted by the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak (see: Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on EIA). For further updates on key developments and related practical guidance on the implications for lawyers, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Planning and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit.


An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is an assessment of a project's likely significant environmental effects. It enables environmental factors to be given due weight, along with economic or social factors, when planning applications are being considered, and provides opportunities to reduce them.

It also gives the public and other consultees opportunities to participate in the decision making procedures.

Legislation and guidance

From 16 May 2017 onwards, EIA in respect of town and country planning matters is governed by:

  1. The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017, SI 2017/571 (the English EIA Regulations) in England, and

  2. The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Wales) Regulations 2017, SI 2017/567 (the Welsh EIA Regulations) in Wales

together the ‘EIA Regulations’.

The EIA Regulations transpose into English and Welsh law the changes made by Archived Directive 2014/52/EU to Archived Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, in so far as they govern town and country planning matters.

Derived from EU law, the EIA Regulations were made pursuant to

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