Legislation, policy and information for marine Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Marine developments requiring Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) can have multiple sets of environmental legislation, policy and plans that apply to them, depending on the type, scale and location of development.
The Schedules of the 2020 EIA Regulations set out developments requiring a mandatory EIA (Schedule 1) and developments which are subject to a screening process to determine if an EIA is necessary (Schedule 2).
The UK has different sets of Regulations for applying EIA to specific regulatory regimes. The most common ones for marine developments are:
- The Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2009 (as amended). The EIA appropriate authority is The Planning Inspectorate.
- The Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 (as amended) need consent from NRW Permitting Service (Wales) or MMO (England).
- The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 (as amended) and The Harbour Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999 (as amended) need consent from Welsh Government.
- The Water Resources (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003 (as amended) need consent from NRW Permitting Services.
- The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (as amended) needs consent from the local planning authority.
Where multiple EIA Regulations and consents apply, it is good practice to provide one Environmental Statement (ES) containing the requirements of each relevant consent, clearly signposted.
Other key legislation
- The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 – created a new system of marine management and sustainable development in UK waters including powers for marine planning and marine licensing.
- The Planning Act 2008 – sets thresholds above which certain types of major infrastructure projects are considered as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) and require a Development Consent Order (DCO). Find out more about NSIP from National Infrastructure Planning.
These two pieces of legislation and associated documents are useful to inform an EIA and help set the development proposal in the appropriate Welsh context.
- The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 – outlines how to plan and manage Wales’ natural resources in a more proactive, sustainable and joined-up way. Sets out the need for a State of the Natural Resources Report, Natural Resources Policy and Area Statements.
- Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 – outlines how Wales will improve social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being by setting out seven well-being goals. NRW, as a public body, needs work towards the goals. We do this by thinking of long-term impacts of the advice and decisions we make.
The planning policies relevant to marine developments in Wales are:
- Welsh National Marine Plan sets out how Wales will develop the seas in a sustainable way through general and sector policies. Relevant public authorities must take the plan into account in their decision making. Any assessment needs to demonstrate how the WNMP polices have been complied with. The Plan sets out the mitigation hierarchy of avoid, minimise, mitigate impacts.
- UK Marine Policy Statement - sets out policies for decision making in the marine environment and the need develop ecosystem approach marine plans.
- National Policy Statements set out government’s objectives for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs). These are used to guide development and aid decision-making.
For EIA developments, you should identify the policies relevant to the development project, and how they support the project, in the ES. If the project deviates from policies, you need to provide justification.
Sources of evidence, information and guidance
Some sources of information, evidence and guidance include following:
- Find environmental data and information to download from the Lle Geo-Portal
- Use the Wales Marine Planning Portal for spatial information on available evidence
- Find out more on the Offshore Energy Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Find out information on The Crown Estate’s leasing plans for marine and seabed activities
- The Marine Data Exchange provides access to data and reports collected by offshore renewable and marine aggregates industries
- Find information on the Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme for Ocean Energy and Offshore Wind. These are collaborative schemes that aim to reduce consenting risk for projects
- Read our marine development guidance