The first stage of EIA is Screening, to identify whether or not a project needs an Environmental Impact Assessment. For large projects – defined by project type and scale – EIA is always needed. For smaller projects where the need for EIA is not automatically triggered, developers can either request a formal Screening Opinion from the local planning authority or can make the decision to carry out an EIA themselves, before moving onto the next phase, Scoping.
In the case of tidal lagoons proposed by Tidal Lagoon Power, due to their scale they are treated as NSIPs and an EIA is therefore necessary.
The second stage of EIA is Scoping. In the case of NSIPs, this stage allows a developer to consult with PINS to determine the information which should be covered in the Environmental Impact Assessment. As part of the process PINS manage the consultation process with other key stakeholders, including statutory nature conservation bodies, local planning authorities, and other interested parties. As part of the scoping process PINS provide a list of prescribed consultation bodies under regulation 9(1)(a) of the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2009 (as amended).
The key benefits of scoping include:
- Early stakeholder identification and engagement;
- A focused assessment on key, likely significant impacts;
- Justification for the exclusion of inappropriate issues;
- Early identification of existing data and data gaps; and
- Early identification of the need for field surveys so that they can be accommodated in the project programme.