Environmental impact assessment

Current

Projects

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure aims at reducing or preventing the negative environmental impact of projects. Examples of projects include highways, landfill sites and power plants.

In the EIA procedure, the impact of the project is assessed at the preparation stage, before any decisions are made and when the forthcoming solutions can still be influenced. The EIA procedure is a project planning tool, and its results must be taken into account when granting permits for projects.

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The developer of the project is responsible for conducting the necessary environmental investigations and producing the Scoping Document and Environmental Impact Assessment Report.. Developers can be individual companies or public actors, such as municipalities or government agencies. The procedure is supervised and controlled by the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, who act as competent authorities. The competent authority for nuclear energy projects is the Ministry of Employment.

The public and the authorities affected by the project can participate in the EIA procedure. The nature of the procedure is participatory and open.

The EIA act defines the projects whose environmental impact must always be assessed. The procedure may be applied to smaller projects and projects not mentioned, if the projects are considered to have significant environmental impacts. If you think a project might have significant environmental effects which need assessing, please contact your local Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, who will advise you for further actions.

The EIA legislation was revised in May 2017 and the change war initiated by the amendment of the EIA directive. The list of projects in currently under revision at the Parliament and is expected to enter into force in the beginning of 2019.

Plans and programmes

The strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is carried out for certain plans, programmes that are likely to have significant environmental effects in accordance with the  SEA Act (200/2005) and the SEA Decree (347/2005). The purpose of SEA is to ensure that environmental considerations are integrated into plan and programme in support of environmentally sound and sustainable development.

Environmental assessment means an assessment of the environmental effects of a plan or programme and its alternatives, preparation of an environmental report, carrying out consultations, taking into account the environmental report and the results of consultations in decisionmaking, and the provision of information on the decision.

The SEA is made by the authority preparing the plan or programme. The types of plans and programmes subject to the SEA are mainly specified in the legislation. A SEA is a required for e.g. national land use objectives, nature conservation programmes, regional plans, river basin management plans,  flood risk management plans and EU structural fund programmes.

Public and other authorities are consulted in the beginning of the planning process on the basis of information on the starting principles, objectives and preparation of the plan and the related environmental report. Consultation of the public and  environmental and other authorities is mandatory in scoping phase and when draft plan or programme and environmental report has been prepared. When a plan or programme is approved, information must be provided on the decision and the decision and the plan or programme must be made publicly available.

Besides the, above-mentioned, environmental assessment there is also a general duty to investigate the environmental effects of plans and programmes that are not subject to the environmental assessment, but that may have likely significant environmental effects (section 3 of the SEA Act). This duty is more general in nature and it covers policies as well.

Transboundary environmental impact

If likely significant environmental impacts of a project, plan or programme cross national boundaries, the assessment is conducted in cooperation with the other country giving an opportunity for the authorities and the affected public to participate into the Finnish EIA or SEA procedure. If a project, plan or programme prepared in another country is likely to have a significant environmental impact in Finland, the Ministry of Environment is responsible for informing the Finnish authorities and affected public after getting a notification on the issue from another country.  The procedure is based on the United Nation Economic for Europe’s Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) when projects are concerned. On plans and programmes the procedure is based on Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment.

Published 2018-11-01 at 14:58, updated 2018-11-01 at 14:57