EIA screening determines whether a project is or is not EIA development. The screening process has evolved over recent years and become increasingly complex. There is one opportunity to get it right.
Bidwells’ works carefully with teams to ensure EIA screening is addressed thoroughly to achieve the best outcome. This is evidenced in our 90% success rate at screening out EIA over the last two years. Where EIA is not needed, we pull together the right evidence to demonstrate this, and where EIA is needed, we typically advise our clients not to waste time and money on screening.
Bidwells is successful at screening due to the quality of the team and the number of screenings undertaken. As EIA experts and Chartered Town Planners, we are commercially driven with a wide understanding of the planning process. We are also recognised by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) as competent experts at the forefront of good practice and expertise in EIA.
The EIA Regulations were substantially updated in 2017, which ushered in the following key changes for screening:
- Screening reports are more detailed than in the past. This allows us to engage with, and address issues at an early stage
- Screening reports increasingly rely on finalised technical reports in order to provide an evidence base and limit uncertainty. These reports are not additional work to those supporting a planning application but need to be completed earlier than they may have previously been done
- Screening is often much later in the pre-application process to allow for robust technical evidence and a fixed scheme design to avoid abortive EIA work
- Measures to avoid or prevent what might otherwise have been significant adverse effects on the environment can now be relied on in EIA screening. These measures need to be clearly understood by all involved as they will need to be implemented at later stages in the planning process
The following are increasingly influencing the need for EIA, for example:
- Multiple applications in an area mean EIAs can be required to address cumulative impacts alone, even where the proposed project does not individually trigger screening thresholds
- Changes in EIA legislation over the last decade have meant that sites which previously had EIA development may no longer require EIA or may require a different approach
- Some local authorities lack inhouse expertise on EIA and are risk adverse. In these instances, local authorities may err on the side of caution and trigger the need for an environmental statement