For the purpose of the Directive an EIA is defined as a process consisting of five parts. Briefly put, these are: (a) the preparation of an EIA report by the developer; (b) the carrying out of consultations; (c) the examination by the competent authority of the information received; (d) a reasoned conclusion by the competent authority on the significant effects of the project on the environment; and (e) the integration of the reasoned conclusion into a decision to grant or refuse development consent (Art 1). In the following this process will be described in some more detail.

The EIA may be integrated into existing procedures for development consent to projects in the Member States, or, failing this, into other procedures. In cases where an obligation to carry out assessments of the effects on the environment arises simultaneously from the EIA Directive and from the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC) and/or the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC), Member States shall ensure that coordinated and/or joint procedures fulfilling the requirements of that legislation are provided for. However, this obligation only applies ‘where appropriate’. (Art 2.)

Where national law provides that the consent procedure is to be carried out in several stages, the EIA in respect of a project must, in principle, be carried out as soon as it is possible to identify and assess all the effects which the project may have on the environment^0 [1]

The EIA shall identify, describe, and assess in an appropriate manner, in the light of each individual case, the direct and indirect significant effects of a project on: population and human health; biodiversity, with particular attention to species and habitats protected under the Habitats and Birds Directives; land, soil, water, air, and climate; material assets, cultural heritage, and the landscape; and the interaction between these factors (Art 3).

Although an EIA does not include an assessment of effects on the value of material assets, pecuniary damage, in so far as it is the direct economic consequence of a project’s effects on the environment, is covered by the objective of protection pursued by the Directive.'[2]

Where an EIA is required, the developer must prepare and submit an EIA report. The information that must be provided by the developer is set out in Article 5(1). Among the required pieces of information are a description of relevant features of the project, a description of the likely significant effects on the environment, and a description of the features of the project and/or measures envisaged in order to avoid, prevent, or reduce and, if possible, offset such effects. A description of the reasonable alternatives studied by the developer and an indication of the main reasons for the option chosen must also be submitted, as must a non-technical summary of the required information. Annex IV specifies additional information that must be provided when relevant to the specific characteristics of a particular project or type of project and to the environmental features likely to be affected.

If the developer so requests, the competent authority shall issue an opinion on the scope and level of detail of the information to be included by the developer in the EIA report (often referred to as a ‘scoping opinion’). Where such an opinion has been issued, the EIA report shall be based on it and include the information that may reasonably be required for reaching a reasoned conclusion on the significant effects of the project on the environment, taking into account current knowledge and methods of assessment. Member States may require the competent authorities to give a scoping opinion irrespective of whether the developer has requested it.

(Art 5.)

In order to ensure the completeness and quality of the EIA report, the developer must ensure that the report is prepared by competent experts and the competent authority must have access to sufficient expertise to examine the report. Where necessary, the authority shall seek from the developer supplementary information in accordance with Annex IV. (Art 5.)

The authorities likely to be concerned by a project by reason of their specific environmental responsibilities or local and regional competences shall be given an opportunity to express their opinion on the information supplied by the developer and on the request for development consent (Art 6).

  • [1] Case C-201/02 Wells (n 19), para 53.
  • [2] The fact that an EIA has not been carried out, in breach of the Directive, does not, in principle and by itself, confer on an individual a right to compensation for purely pecuniary damagecaused by the decrease in the value of her property as a result of the environmental effects of thatproject. However, if the requirements of EU law applicable to the right to compensation have beensatisfied, then the affected individual has a right to reparation on the basis of EU law directly. Butthe fact that the Directive does not lay down substantive rules in relation to the balancing of theenvironmental effects with other factors or prohibit the completion of projects which are liable tohave negative effects on the environment suggests that failure to carry out an assessment does not, inprinciple, by itself constitute the reason for the decrease in the value of a property. Case C-420/11Leth ECLI:EU:C:2013:166, paras 36, 42, 46, and 48.
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