The following details are required environmental assessments to be undertaken as part of the scheme.
The Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) will be prepared as part of the scheme. It will fulfil the requirements set out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the ‘Guidelines on the Information to be contained in Environmental Impact Statements’ (EPA, 2017) which outline the transposed requirement of the European EIA Directive 2011/92/EU as amended by Directive 2014/52/EU, and in the consolidated Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2018. The Report also references the ‘Guidelines for Planning Authorities and An Bord Pleanála on carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment’, published by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in August 2018. When completed, the Report will be put on public display and will be available on this website.
The purpose of the EIAR is to document the environment in the vicinity of the proposed development site in an effort to quantify the possible impacts, on the environment. The assessment process served to highlight areas where mitigation measures may be necessary in order to avoid and reduce any potential impacts on the surrounding environment as a result of the proposed development. The objective is to facilitate the most efficient and positive design of the proposed scheme insofar as possible and to ensure that measures are in place to ensure that any adverse impacts are avoided, reduced or compensated for, as appropriate.
The environmental assessment process will be ongoing throughout the planning and design of the project. Information gathered or alternatives suggested arising from public information days, meetings with stakeholders and written representations are considered on the grounds of engineering feasibility, environmental viability, existing constraints and economics.
Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and Wild Fauna and Flora, known as the ‘Habitats Directive’ - provides legal protection for habitats and species of European importance. A Network of specially protected ‘Natura 2000’ site have been designated under this Directive and a specific assessment process must be followed in order to assess impacts on any of these sites, if they exist within the vicinity of a proposed development. These sites are either Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) which protect habitat and species of concern, or Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which protect bird species of conservation interest.
A Stage 1 AA screening is the first point in the process whereby sites within a ‘zone of impact’ of the project are identified and any potential pathways of impact are shown. If there is no risk of impact to any of the sites identified (or if there are no sites within the zone of impact) the assessment is complete. If any impacts are potentially likely, the process must progress to stage 2 (NIS – or Natura Impact Statement).
As part of the Environmental Assessment process, a number of ecological surveys are required to be undertaken. Invasive Alien Species (IAS) surveys and treatment have been ongoing annually since 2019. Bird surveys commenced in March 2022 and will proceed for a minimum of 12 months. Other survey requirements have been identified as part of the ongoing assessment process, with Freshwater Pearl Mussel and electro-fishing surveys due in 2023, along with otter/badger surveys scheduled for winter 2022. This is, however, a non-exhaustive list and further survey requirements may become apparent through the assessment process.