Environmental Impact Assessment

JBA manages the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) process to develop Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). We also undertake Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) and Appropriate Assessments (AA). Working with a wide range of clients, JBA has established a reputation for providing professional, independent and practical advice based on thorough scientific investigation. 

Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process by which the anticipated effects on the environment of a proposed development or project are measured. If the likely effects are unacceptable, design measures or other relevant mitigation measures can be taken to reduce or avoid those effects.

JBA Consulting's Environment Team is capable of undertaking EIA for a range of diverse projects. We can project manage and co-ordinate a multi-disciplinary team to produce detailed Environmental Appraisals and Environmental Impact Statements, addressing all potential environmental impacts of a project. 

We lead clients through each stage of the EIA, from screening and scoping, to issue of the final report and implementation of mitigation and monitoring measures. Using our experienced ecologists, hydrologists, hydrogeologists and landscape architects, we identify the needs of a project and where potential environmental impacts may arise. We then undertake all necessary survey work to identify baseline conditions and potential impacts of the projects. 

We have the experience to manage the EIA process from inception through to production of the EIS in support of the planning submission. Our broad base in environmental consultancy, quality systems and experience means we can progress the EIA process smoothly, ensuring adherence to legislative and planning guidance, while developing appropriate, innovative solutions for your development. Our informed and balanced approach to the whole environment when dealing with projects gives clients the benefit of integrating all environmental issues with their individual development issues.

We can also provide specialist input to various EIA topic areas including ecology, hydrology, landscape and visual impact assessment and drainage impact assessment.

Legislative Context to Appropriate Assessment

The Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora) aims to maintain or restore the favourable conservation status of habitats and species of community interest across Europe. The requirements of this Directive are transposed into Irish law through the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations) 2011 (S.I. No. 477 of 2011).

Under the Directive a network of sites of nature conservation importance have been identified by each Member State as containing specified habitats or species requiring to be maintained or returned to favourable conservation status. In Ireland the network consists of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), and also candidate sites, which form the Natura 2000 network. 

Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive requires that, in relation to European designated sites (i.e. SACs and SPAs that form the Natura 2000 network), "any plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, shall be subject to appropriate assessment of its implications for the site in view of the site's conservation objectives".

A competent authority (e.g. the OPW or Local Authority) can only agree to a plan or project after having determined that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site concerned.

Under article 6(4) of the Directive, if adverse impacts are likely, and in the absence of alternative options, a plan or project must nevertheless proceed for imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI), including social or economic reasons, a Member State is required to take all compensatory measures necessary to ensure the overall integrity of the Natura 2000 site. The European Commission have to be informed of any compensatory measures adopted, unless a priority habitat type or species is present and in which case an opinion from the European Commission is required beforehand (unless for human health or public safety reasons, or of benefit to the environment).

Appropriate Assessment Process

Guidance on the Appropriate Assessment (AA) process was produced by the European Commission in 2002, which was subsequently developed into guidance specifically for Ireland by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG) (2009).   JBA have a wealth of experience in a number of different jurisdictions in application of Appropriate Assessments in the wind power, drainage and flood relief sectors.

Appropriate Assessment


Stage 1 - Screening for AA

In the initial, screening stage of the Appropriate Assessment JBA’s ecologists will determine:

  1. whether the proposed plan or project is directly connected with or necessary for the management of the European designated site for nature conservation;
  2. if it is likely to have a significant adverse effect on the European designated site, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects.

For those sites where potential adverse impacts are identified, either alone or in combination with other plans or projects, further assessment is necessary to determine if the proposals will have an adverse impact on the integrity of a European designated site, in view of the sites conservation objectives (i.e. the process proceeds to Stage 2).

Stage 2 - AA

This stage requires a more in-depth evaluation of the plan or project, and the potential direct and indirect impacts of them on the integrity and interest features of the European designated site(s), alone and in-combination with other plans and projects, taking into account the site's structure, function and conservation objectives. Where required, mitigation or avoidance measures JBA will be suggested.

The competent authority can only agree to the plan or project after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site(s) concerned. If this cannot be determined, and where mitigation cannot be achieved, then alternative solutions will need to be considered (i.e. the process proceeds to Stage 3).

Stage 3 - Alternative Solutions

Where adverse impacts on the integrity of Natura 2000 sites are identified, and mitigation cannot be satisfactorily implemented, alternative ways of achieving the objectives of the plan or project that avoid adverse impacts need to be considered. If none can be found, the process proceeds to demonstrating imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI).

JBA offer a robust, systematic and objective approach to ensure compliance with statutory guidelines throughout the appraisal process.