The UK EIA Regulations require developers of marine renewable energy projects that are likely to have a significant effect on the environment to undertake an assessment of the positive and negative environmental impacts of a development from the construction phase through to decommissioning. This assessment is called an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and must be documented within an Environmental Statement (ES). It is anticipated that the majority of marine renewable energy applications will require an EIA.
Screening is the process by which a project is reviewed to determine if a statutory EIA is required for a specific project or development under the EIA Directive and associated Regulations. Applicants may (but are not required to) apply for a screening opinion. Screening will determine if the project features within Annex I or Annex II of the European Council (EC) Directive on EIA (85/337/EEC as amended by 97/11/EC).
There are two forms of EIA:
- Mandatory EIA: all projects listed in Annex I are considered as having significant effects on the environment and require an EIA (e.g. extraction of petroleum and natural gas for commercial purposes, geological storage of carbon dioxide)
- Discretion of Member States (screening): for projects listed in Annex II, Natural Resources Wales must decide if the proposed project requires an EIA.
Offshore renewable energy projects are likely to fall within Annex II which will require an EIA where any part of the development is likely to be carried out in a sensitive area.
Potential applicants should contact the Permit Receipt Centre providing the information detailed below, to:
Permit Receipt Centre, Natural Resources Wales, Cambria House, 29 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0TP
‘Marine Screening Opinion’ should be clearly referenced on the correspondence
A request for a screening opinion must be accompanied by:
- A brief description of the project
- A statement of the working methods to be used in the course of the project;
- Information on the size / scale / nature of the project;
- Area(s) under consideration for development and the wider development (offshore and onshore requirements / terrestrial and marine footprints);
- Relevant maps, plans, charts or site drawings;
- An idea of timescale and duration of the development;
- A summary of all discussions already held with primary advisors and consultees;
- A statement of any navigational issues envisaged;
- Any other information as the applicant may wish to provide.
Before issuing a Screening Opinion NRW will consider the proposed works against Annexes I and II of the EIA Directive. NRW will consult with internal experts and external consultation bodies.
The Screening Opinion will include:-
- whether or not a statutory EIA is required and guidance on requirements
- Information on specific sensitivities at the planned site
- Details of available datasets and relevant research/information
- An indication of the type and possibly the extent of environmental data collation/collection likely to be required.
Please note that Directive 2011/92/EU has been amended to new Directive 2014/52/EU. Under this new directive, screening will be tightened up by prescribing the information that developers will have to provide. A new Annex IIA sets out the minimum content of a screening report for submission on screening any Annex II project which is above member state defined thresholds. Specifically, specific consideration will need to be given to impacts of a project on, and its resilience to, climate change, and impacts on cultural heritage and landscape. Information on risks from major accidents or disasters, cumulative effects with any existing or planned projects and any mitigation works which would reduce the environmental impacts would also need to be included. Many authorities will already require this sort of information, but in future the changes will mean a more detailed level of information provision and analysis will be required at an earlier stage.