At a more detailed level than SEA, EIA
tends to be applied on an individual project basis and can be informed by the
findings of SEA. Numerous EIA publications and Good Practice Guides have been
produced and indicate how to apply the method in a general way, and in
accordance with legal requirements, including some specific guidance on the
application to transport schemes.
Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment (85/337/EEC) (CEC 1985) as amended
by Directive 97/11/EEC (CEC1997) requires member states to assess the
significant environmental effects of certain public and private projects. This
is compulsory for the types of transport project listed under Annex I and
discretionary for projects listed under Annex II including inland waterways,
railways and roads not covered by Annex I (Box 3.3).
The requirement for
an environmental assessment for Annex II projects either can be determined on a
case by case basis, or by adopting a threshold criteria, or by a combination of
the two, Special attention is needed in environmentally sensitive locations
including those covered by the Birds Directive (79/409/ECC), and Habitats
The amended EC
Directive on EIA (97/11/EEC) demands consideration of the main alternatives
studied and the reasons for the final choice – for example, to avoid a
protected area. The developer is required to provide certain specified
appropriate information to the case to enable a decision to be made by the
authorities. The information supplied should consider significant direct and
indirect effects including to flora, fauna and landscape and the
interrelationship of these with other aspects. Details of measures to reduce
significant adverse effects should be included within the assessment. Cumulative
effects must be assessed also (Box 3.4). Cumulative
effects can result in significant changes in the landscape and to biological
diversity. For example, an existing railway and a proposed road crossing the
same valley together may exacerbate the visual effects and severance problems.
Public consultation forms an important
part of the process of environmental impact assessment. The application for
consent and the information received should be made available for comment by the
The EIA Directive
(85/337/EEC) has been variously implemented by EU member States (IUCN 1990) with
particular laws relating to transport schemes. Under the acquis communautaire
States are required to take on a variety of legislation relating to transport
and the environment. This includes adopting the Environmental Impact Assessment
Directive. The Vienna Declaration requires the implementation of EIA in planning
and building transport infrastructure and is in line with the Espoo Convention
1991. Thus, throughout the European region the application of EIA is strongly
recommended even in cases where there is no legal requirement.
Care is needed to
ensure that compliance with the legal/ funding requirements of an EIA do not
overlook the need to continue the EIA process in subsequent post planning stages
of scheme design and implementation. This is very important if features relating
to the landscape and biological diversity are to be maintained.
monitoring provides a check on whether proposals put forward in the EIA have
been implemented and are functioning. Feedback can enable fine adjustments to be
made. Secondary benefits of monitoring include improvements in prediction
techniques. A shortcoming is that the EIA Directive makes no provision for the “posteriori
examination” included in Article 7 of the Espoo Convention. Generally
monitoring is omitted unless supported by a legal requirement/agreement as part
of the consent (as in Spain, France and the Netherlands (Fauconnier 2000 2e).
In addition to EIA,
other relevant European Directives need to be considered including those on
local air quality, noise and water pollution (CEC 2000).
Box 3.3 Type of transport schemes
requiring EIA under 97/11/EEC
Construction of lines of long-distance
Construction of motorways and express
Construction of a new road of four or
more lanes, or realignment and/or widening of an existing road of two lanes or
less so as to provide four or more lanes, where such new road, or realigned
and/or widened section of road would be 10 km or more in a continuous length
Inland waterways and ports for inland
waterway traffic which permit the passage of vessels of over 1,350 tonnes.
c) Construction of railways and
intermodal trans shipment facilities, and of intermodal terminals (included
projects not in Annex I);
(e) Construction of roads, harbours and
port installations, including fishing harbours (projects not included in Annex
(h) Tramways, elevated and underground
railways, suspended lines or similar lines of a particular type, used
exclusively or mainly for passenger transport;
Types of environmental impact
Impacts: Impacts on the environment, which are not a direct result of the
project, often produced away from or as a result of a complex pathway. Sometimes
referred to as second or third level impacts, or secondary impacts.
Impacts: Impacts that result from incremental changes caused by other past,
present or reasonably foreseeable actions together with the project.
Interactions: The reactions between impacts whether between the impacts of just
one project or between the impacts of other projects in the areas".
Commission DGXI (1999) Guidelines for the assessment of indirect and cumulative
impacts as well as impact interactions.)