If your application is likely to have a significant impact on the environment you'll need an Environment Impact Assessment.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process by which information about the potential environmental effects of a development proposal are collected, assessed and taken into account by the Department in reaching a decision as to whether a proposed development should be approved. The purpose of the EIA process is to improve the quality of decision making by identifying potential environmental issues early in the determination process.

The EIA process has traditionally focused on physical developments such as highways, power stations, water resource projects and large-scale industrial facilities. Other major proposals not covered by planning procedures may also need an Environmental Impact Assessment before a decision is reached on whether they should go ahead.

Examples of these include drainage schemes, afforestation and harbour development below the low watermark. The scope of EIA has been expanded to include policies, plans and other actions which also form part of the development process.

Environmental Impact Statement

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a publicly available document which describes and details the effects a development proposal will have on the environment and advises on how best to manage environmental impacts arising. Environmental Impact Statements are prepared by the proponent and represent their assessment of the likely environmental effects of their proposed development. The EIS is submitted with the development application.

Proponents are expected to consult with those public authorities who hold relevant environmental information that in turn are required to make such environmental information, as may be relevant, available to the proponent.

Environmental impact statements must include a description of the project, the main effect(s) the proposal is likely to have on the environment, a description of the measures envisaged to avoid, reduce or remedy significant adverse environmental effects and an outline of the main alternatives studied by the proponent.

Advantages of EIA

Environmental Impact Assessment provides a basis for better decision making for the Department and other public bodies with environmental responsibilities. For proponents, the process should draw attention at an early stage, to the potential environmental effects of their development proposal so the alternatives can be examined or remedial measures incorporated in the designs. Environmental Impact Assessment ensures that the environmental impacts of proposed development is thoroughly analysed before an application is made, and more comprehensive information provided with the application.

How the EIA process helps communities in NSW

The communities concern about new development is often about the unknown and the unseen. By providing a full analysis of the environmental effects, EIA can help allay fears created by lack of information. At the same time it can also inform the wider community on the main issues which the Department will address in reaching its decision on the planning application.