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Training package on EU Environmental Assessment Law – Focus on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directives

Module 2: Focus on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The process of an EIA: Projects under the EIA Directive - Annex I projects – mandatory EIA

Article 4(1) of the EIA Directive:
 
Subject to Article 2(4), projects listed in Annex I shall be made subject to an assessment in accordance with Articles 5 to 10.

For projects falling under the scope of Article 4(1) and Annex I of the EIA Directive, the co-legislators have established a conclusive presumption that these projects, either given their nature (in the case of, e.g., nuclear plants, crude oil refineries or motorways) or given their size (e.g. thermal power plants with a heat output of 300 megawatts or more; airports with a basic runway length of 2100 metres or more; gas, oil, and chemicals pipelines with a diameter of more than 800 mm and a length of more than 40 km) do have significant effects on their environment. Given the nature of the conclusive presumption, there is no possibility for the developer to prove that the project, for whatever reason, does not have significant effects on the environment and all projects listed in Annex I of the EIA Directive have to undergo a mandatory environmental impact assessment.

In that respect, it is well-established case-law of the ECJ that the purpose of the EIA Directive cannot be circumvented by the splitting of projects and the failure to take account of the cumulative effect of several projects. Carrying out projects in two or more stages must not mean in practice that they all escape the obligation to carry out an assessment when, taken together, they are likely to have significant effects on the environment within the meaning of Article 2(1) of the EIA Directive. (More information: Cases C-392/96, Commission v. Ireland, paragraphs, 76, 82; C-142/07, Ecologistas en Acción-CODA, paragraph 44; C-205/08, Umweltanwalt von Kärnten, paragraph 53; C-2/07, Abraham and Others, paragraph 27; C-275/09, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, paragraph 36).)

 


Developed by the Academy of European Law (ERA)