Environmental Impact Assessment
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a means of systematically drawing together the assessment of the likely significant environmental effects arising from a proposed project. The EIA process provides a valuable opportunity to reduce potential environmental impacts through design refinement and is undertaken as an integral part of Transport Scotland’s design process. Environmental constraints and issues are identified through consultation, extensive environmental surveys and technical assessments. The information gathered can then inform the decision-making throughout the design process, providing opportunities to address potentially significant impacts at an early stage, for example by refinement of route alignment or by the incorporation of mitigation measures into the proposed Scheme design. Impacts are then assessed by comparing the existing situation (the baseline conditions) to the conditions that would occur with the proposed Scheme in place.
The formal requirement for EIA of Trunk Road projects is set out in the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.
The EIA Directive (2014/52/EU) was transposed into Scottish law in May 2017. The relevant regulations in Scotland for motorways and trunk roads are The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 (SSI 2017 No.137). The EIA Regulations amend the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 (as amended).
The EIA Regulations categorise developments according to their requirement for an EIA. Annex I lists large-scale or potentially high impact developments for which an EIA is always required. Annex II lists developments that may or may not require an EIA depending on the characteristics and location of the development, and the significance of potential effects.
All projects and maintenance works undertaken on the trunk road network are screened for environmental effects by environmental specialists with relevant expertise or qualifications to ensure that the legislative and statutory requirements for EIA are met.
Scottish Ministers under the EIA legislation must determine if a project falls within Annex I or Annex II.
Road projects that fall under Annex I include:
- Construction of motorways and express roads
- 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
Under Annex II, a ‘relevant’ project is screened to determine if it is an improvement or maintenance scheme which meets the following criteria:
The completed works, including construction works and any area occupied by apparatus, equipment, machinery, materials, plant, spoil heaps or other such facilities or stores required during the construction period:
- Exceed 1ha in area, or
- Are situated in whole or in part in a sensitive area
For Annex I and II projects, a Record of Determination will be prepared which provides evidence and information for the determination and includes the main potential effects on the environment and mitigations to be implemented that will minimise the environmental impact. The record and notice of the works is published in the press. Where a full EIA is required, the Record of Determination helps to inform the screening and scoping process.