1.7 - (IMP)³ - Improving the Implementation of Environmental Impact Assessment

Project Description

The European Union has enacted the EIA-Directive (Directive 85/337/EEC as amended by Directive 97/11/EC) to apply the assessment of the environmental effects of those public and private projects which are likely to have significant effects on the environment. This EIA-Directive has been in place for almost 20 years. The Commission evaluated its application and effectiveness and found various weaknesses in the Member States' implementation. As a result the Commission thinks about an adoption of the EIA Directive.

The project IMProving the IMPlementation of Environmental IMPact Assessment - (IMP)³ had an important contribution to the process of considering amendments of the EIA Directive.

According to the report of the Commission IMP³ focuses on three main objectives:

  • Objective A: a better incorporation of human health aspects into EIA
  • Objective B: an increase in the consistency of risk assessments regarding various sources of risks (natural hazards, accidents, sabotage) by integrating risk exposure (potential of dangers) and vulnerability (damage potential)
  • Objective C: a survey of thresholds according to Annex I such as a documentation of the relationship between the two Annexes and their practical implementation

(IMP)³ was based on the results of the report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the application and effectiveness of the EIA Directive. The research focused on some of the weak points the report lined out: inconsistently addressed health aspects in EIAs, inconsistently addressed risks in EIAs and the question whether thresholds set for projects set in Annex I are appropriate for all Member States. Along these themes research was taken into account on global, European and national level. To get a broader view experiences from "old" and "new" Member States and from Non-EU-Countries were collected and analysed.

Research on the improvement of the application of the environmental impact assessment needs a sufficient communication with EIA-stakeholders on several levels. The technical approach of (IMP)³ was strongly focused on interaction with EIA-stakeholders in close combination with the essential desk-research. In order to provide an overview of the situation in current and "new" Member States of the EU as well as in countries outside Europe existing studies were exploited. The different national legal basis was analysed. Furthermore a questionnaire was sent to different EIA-stakeholders in the EU-member states (as national governmental organisations, regional bodies with competence in EIA-issues, NGO's, consultants, scientists and other EIA proponents). To gather a more detailed information in 12 countries EIA-experts were interviewed. Based on these different sources the current situation in European and Non-European countries was analysed according to the main issues of (IMP)³, health, risk and thresholds. Finally the report formulated policy-options that could serve as basis for a harmonised application of the EIA in the EU Member States.

(IMP)³ served directly the scientific and technological needs of the policies of the Community related to the application of the EIA-Directive (97/11/EC).

In detail (IMP)³:

  • provides a better understanding of "impacts" and clarifies different interpretations of environment, health, vulnerability, risks, ... within EU 25.
    provides a better understanding of EIA applications.
  • makes suggestions to improve the coherence with different assessment tools (health impact assessment etc.).
  • gives proposals for the integration of health aspects into EIA, how to come to a risk characterisation and suggestions for setting of thresholds for projects.
  • makes suggestions how to integrate risk assessment in EIA procedure by linking risk exposure and vulnerability.
  • underpins the justification in setting thresholds and providing common criteria/guidelines.
    So (IMP)³ provided a contribution to improve the implementation of the environmental impact assessment in the EU member states.
Research Team
  • Paulo Pinho (coordinator)
  • Rita Correia
  • Sara Santos Cruz

List of other participants (organisation name, country)

  • OIR, Österreichisches Institut für Raumplanung (Austrian Institute for Regional Studies and Spatial Planning), Austria
  • UBA, Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environment Agency), Austria
  • WCH, Centre for Health Business Unit Velindre NHS Trust Wales, United Kingdom
  • Nordregio, Sweden
  • SZAP, Slovenskej Agentury Zivotnehó Prostredia(Slovak Environmental Agency), Slovakia

Financial Support
  • European Commission funding
Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2006