Environmental Impact Assessments for Marine and Freshwater Environments - EIA, HRA and WFD
Aquatic Environmental Impacts Assessments
Carcinus delivers scientifically robust and regulatory compliant environmental assessments including marine and freshwater Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) and Water Framework Directive (WFD) assessments to support clients with development projects in and near aquatic environments. A properly scoped, managed and delivered environmental assessment is vital to securing development / planning consent for a project. Our aquatic environmental consultants are highly skilled in the management and delivery of multi-disciplinary environmental assessments, covering all stages from scoping, ecological and physical baseline surveys, impact assessment, formal Environmental Statements (ES) through to post-consent support. Our staff have managed and delivered environmental assessment services including EIAs and supporting documentation for high-profile projects within the offshore renewables, ports, power and transport sectors.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an environmental assessment process that aims to identify the environmental effects of a proposed activity, project, policy or plan and to ensure that the competent authority(s) are fully informed and can make decisions in full knowledge of the likely effects on the environment. The need for an EIA is driven by a number of regulations, dependent upon the nature and location of the proposed project and includes, but is not limited to:
- The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England) Regulations 2011 (as amended 2017)
- The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Wales) Regulations 2016 (as amended 2017)
- The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
- The Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (England, Wales and N. Ireland) 2007 (as amended 2017)
- The Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
An EIA is a multi-staged process, comprising the following broad stages:
- Screening - determine if the proposed project requires assessment.
- Scoping - identify issues to be considered within the ES and ask relevant authority(s) for their ‘scoping opinion’.
- Consultation - undertaking consultation and engagement with regulators, stakeholders and local interested parties.
- Baseline data collection - desktop studies, ecological field surveys (e.g., freshwater or marine ecological surveys) and geophysical surveys.
- Impact assessment - the identification and assessment of likely impacts on physical, ecological and human receptors.
- Mitigation - the identification of mitigation and compensatory options to reduce or offset identified impacts to acceptable levels.
- Consent application - the preparation and submission of an Environmental Statement and associated documentation.
- Decision making - consideration of the application by the planning authority
- Post-construction or post-consent monitoring and discharging license conditions - including ecological and / or geophysical monitoring.
Carcinus staff have project managed and delivered EIAs and associated environmental assessment and consent documentation for major infrastructure projects within a range of industry sectors. Our environmental consultants and ecologists can advise on all stages of the EIA process for projects with the potential to affect both marine and freshwater aquatic environments.
Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA)
Where a project or plan is likely to have a significant effect on a Natura 2000 site (e.g., Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Ramsar sites), the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive set out a consenting procedure. This requires that the competent authority(s) carries out an Appropriate Assessment (AA), this process is known as a Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA). It is the competent authority who is responsible for carrying out a HRA and deciding if there will be adverse effects on the integrity of a Natura site. The HRA process is rigorous and precautionary with a focus on the conservation objectives and qualifying features of the affected site. To enable the competent authority to undertake a HRA, a developer must provide sufficient information and evidence. Carcinus are experienced in supporting developers in this aspect, providing the necessary information in a scientifically robust report known as a 'report to inform Appropriate Assessment' or 'shadow HRA'.
The HRA process comprises four key stages as outlined below:
- Screening - identify and determine if the project is likely to have significant impacts on a Natura site (alone or in combination with other projects).
- Appropriate Assessment - assessment of impacts on the integrity of Natura site, taking cognisance of the site’s structure, function and conservation objectives. Mitigation options are assessed - where adverse effects cannot be mitigated, proceed to stages 3 and 4.
- Assessment of alternative solutions - review alternative ways of delivering or designing the project and if such solutions avoid or reduce impact on Natura site.
- IROPI (Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest) - where no alternative solution is identified and adverse impacts remain, determination if project is needed due to IROPI and consideration to be given to possible compensatory measures to maintain the overall coherence of site or the integrity of the Natura site network.
Carcinus supports clients in relation to their obligations under Habitat regulations by providing the following services:
- Ecological desk studies and surveys designed, managed and delivered to support HRA screening;
- Undertake shadow HRA assessments to determine if a likely adverse effect on the integrity of a site will occur;
- Designing and specifying mitigation options to reduce / remove likely adverse effects or identifying compensatory measures to offset effects; and
- Liaison and consultation with regulators throughout the HRA process.
Water Framework Directive (WFD)
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) aims to achieve 'good' ecological and chemical status (or potential) for all ground and surface waters (rivers, lakes, transitional waters, and coastal waters) and the avoidance of deterioration in the status. Any project, plan or policy must ensure that the aims of the Directive are not undermined.
The assessment of status under the WFD considers the following elements:
- Biological quality - e.g., aquatic flora and fauna;
- Hydromorphological quality - e.g., channel and bank structure, continuity / connectivity and river bed substrate;
- Physico-chemical quality - e.g., water temperature, dissolved oxygen and eutrophication; and
- Chemical quality - defined by environmental quality standards for specific pollutants.
The establishment of baseline / existing conditions for each of the WFD biological, physico-chemical and hydromorphology quality elements is an essential step in determining the likely effect of a project on individual quality elements or the overall WFD status. Carcinus provides a range of ecological, water quality and hydromorphology consultancy and survey services to enable the assessment of current compliance against the WFD and to determine if proposals will affect WFD status. Our services, supporting WFD assessment include:
Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
In addition, Carcinus also provides support to clients in relation to the assessment of project effects on MCZs and MPAs.
We also provide advice in relation to the need for European Protected Species (EPS) licences.
Please download our 'Environmental Assessment' capability statement below:
If you require more information regarding our environmental assessment capabilities and services, please contact us.