EU rules ensure that Member States should assess the likely significant environmental effect of certain large infrastructure projects, public plans and programmes.
Environmental assessments can be undertaken for individual projects, such as a dam, motorway, airport or factory (under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive) or for public plans or programmes (under the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive).
Both Directives ensure that an environmental assessment takes place before plans, programmes and projects are approved or authorised. Public participation in decision-making is a key aspect of both Directives.
Espoo Convention and SEA Protocol
The Espoo Convention aims to ensure that its parties assess the environmental impact of certain activities at an early stage of planning. Parties should also notify and consult each other on the activities listed in the convention that are likely to have a significant adverse transboundary (cross-border) impact.
The SEA Protocol aims to promote sustainable development by identifying environmental consequences early in the decision-making process of its parties, and to ensure that the environmental considerations are integrated into said process.
The UN Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (Aarhus) protects every person’s right to a healthy environment. It grants the public rights and imposes obligations on Parties and public authorities on access to information and public participation and access to justice.
Related laws:Industrial Emissions Directive, Wild Birds Directive, Habitats Directive, Environmental Crime Directive, Seveso III Directive, Waste Framework Directive, Water Framework Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Offshore Safety Directive, Carbon Capture and Storage Directive
Related topics:Natura 2000
Related strategies:Simplifying permitting processes for renewable energy projects, REPowerEU
For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.