The European Impact Assessment and the Environment

Organisations, environmental management and innovation
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For this reason, it is of particular importance to the EAA. In fact, one can say that the Directive, and the manner of its implementation in the different member states of the EU, reflects a key issue for the EAA and, indeed, for the EU : how to achieve the common societal goal of archaeological heritage protection and management against a background of widely varying local situations and approaches.

A large portion of development-led archaeology in Europe takes place on projects which are subject to EIA such as land and sea-based infrastructure projects, urban expansion, forestry, mining and extraction etc. The EIA Directive, therefore has a direct impact on almost everyone whose work is connected with development-led archaeology. By association, it has an impact on almost everyone who works in, or on, European archaeology for two main reasons.

The first is the fact that the Directive is responsible for the discovery and investigation of very large amounts of new archaeological sites and material.

The second, because it is an important EU-wide legal instrument, is that it prompts comparison of approaches in methods and practice. This suggests that greater harmonisation might be needed. The Directive has potential implications for the archaeological profession that extend well beyond the body of individual development projects that require EIA. For all of these reasons, it is proposed to establish an EAA working party to consider the implication of the Directive for archaeological practice in Europe.

At this stage, the following activities are proposed:. A certain level of coherence is being pursued through some initiatives in order to facilitate transboundary consultation and SEA in relation to trans-national infrastructure please see the related FAQ below "Are recommendations available on how to carry out trans-boundary consultation as part of an SEA process? It is also possible to use the requirement of SEA to assess plan alternatives to consider different scenarios for an MSP, varying the scale of development, location, etc.


Realistic alternatives may be difficult to set out, since the components of the MSP are often driven by specific policy drivers such as a requirement for a certain level of offshore renewable energy , but there may be potential to consider other options within these boundaries, such as configurations of development, relative composition of different renewable energy technologies, etc.

SEA forms part of a hierarchy of environmental assessment which informs decision making from the strategic level policies and programmes , and relates to Environmental Impact Assessment EIA undertaken at the project level. SEA is mandatory for plans and programmes implementation of which are likely to have significant effects on the environment, which include MSP. EIA is mandatory in relation to specific proposed activities i.

The SEA environmental report includes information that may reasonably be required, taking into account current knowledge and methods of assessment, and the content and level of detail in the MSP. It will highlight which activities are more appropriately assessed at the more detailed EIA stage, which is often required for the licensing of specific projects after a Maritime Spatial Plan has entered into force.

A SEA has an important role in guiding EIAs, since the challenges in reconciling some issues at the EIA scale require a more strategic approach, for example addressing impacts to mobile species such as marine mammals and birds. There is often understandable confusion regarding the difference in the level of detail between SEA and EIA, given that both are intended to reach conclusions on whether potential impacts are significant or not.

Quantifying impacts and defining thresholds of what is significant in terms of risk of impact on ecological features is arbitrary at the strategic scale. Even where guiding thresholds may exist such as in relation to sensitive bird populations in a region , it will not be possible to accurately predict the risk posed by a yet to be developed multi-sector MSP. Such issues need to be clarified in each context in order to manage expectations of the level of detail presented through an SEA. Cumulative impacts are a key aspect of SEA for MSP, given the broad scale and diversity of proposed development and the need to conclude at a strategic level on the risk of significant ecological effects.

This tool provides an example of how to understanding cumulative impacts, as a key aspect of developing maritime spatial plans using an Ecosystem Based Approach EBA.

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Cumulative impact assessment tools are highly dependent on the quality of data used and care is needed in interpreting the results. A critical perspective is needed in order to understand and communicate the uncertainties involved in such complex, model-based assessments. Applying different tools and comparing results provides a method of testing the predictions made. Further information on cumulative impact tools for MSP can be found under the question "Are there practices available to find out more about the application of cumulative impact methodologies?

The understanding gained through assessment and consultation through SEA, can be used to refine the design of the MSP. However, the extent to which the processes are integrated varies according to the implementation within each country. Co-ordination of consultation processes can also ensure rapid incorporation of the views of stakeholders and demonstrate coherence. Although the SEA process is more limited in scope and resources, there can be a need to align some of the required stakeholder engagement for SEA and MSP, which would address the challenges of overwhelming stakeholders with requests to input to different processes.

However, some separation between SEA and MSP is also appropriate, and there are advantages and disadvantages, for example, to both processes being led by the same authority. This can be mitigated to some extent through the use of external contractors as is required by law in Latvia who may provide a level of independence to the assessment and associated consultation processes.

MSP in the EU

The Espoo Convention requires national authorities to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that might have adverse environmental impact across borders. The Protocol requires its Parties to evaluate the environmental consequences of their official draft plans and programmes by conducting Strategic environmental assessment SEA. Are recommendations available on how to carry out trans-boundary consultation as part of an SEA process? Article 10 of the Kiev Protocol under the Espoo Convention sets out the requirements for trans-boundary consultations.

It defines whether notification is needed, what it should contain, the procedure for entering into consultations, and necessary arrangements for consultations. In brief, notification is required when the implementation of a plan or programme is likely to have significant trans-boundary environmental effects.

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The detail of the notification varies depending on the scope, extent and foreseen effects of the plan or programme in question, but in general the responsible authority should provide the details of the draft plan or programme, the environmental report and information regarding the decision-making procedure, including an indication of a reasonable time schedule for the transmission of comments.

Other information, such as public information materials and other background documents may also be required.

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It also provides information when setting the framework for the consent of future development projects listed in annexes to the EIA directive. The SEA process was carried out as a trans-boundary process with Latvia. At the very beginning of the process, Latvia was informed of the planning process and the SEA.

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The SEA results and the plan were presented to Latvia after the planning proposal was drafted. There is potential for overlap between transboundary consultation for SEA and cross-border consultation through MSP, and co-ordination between the processes could be efficient and effective, for delivery of the plans and to make effective use of stakeholder resources as they need to be consulted on MSP, SEA, MSFD, etc.

Are there recommendations available for how to carry out a trans-boundary SEA process with regard to offshore grid infrastructure and cable routing? Proposed infrastructure projects such as trans-national electricity transmission and cabling which affect many countries present challenges for SEA. Due to limited experience the recommendations how to carry out a trans-boundary SEA process for offshore grid infrastructure and cable routing are scarce. Currently, member states take different approaches to SEA, which makes integration across borders challenging.

This project to develop a coherent approach will support the development and effective implementation of MSPs in the region. The Latvian MSP is a national level long-term up to 12 years spatial development planning document that shall define the use of the sea, considering a terrestrial part that is functionally interlinked with the sea and co-ordinating interests of various sectors and local governments in use of the sea. The MSP covers territorial waters out to 12 nautical miles and Exclusive economic zone from 12 nautical mile.