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Environmental Impact Assessment (projects)

The Environmental Impact Assessment is a process designed to anticipate and report on the effects of a project or a specific plan or program may cause to the environment.

On the 12th of December 2013 a new law on Environmental Assessment comes into force (Law 21/2013 of 9th of December, on Environmental Assessment). With the formulation of this new law, two provisions are merged into one unified regulation: Law 9/2006 of 28th of April on evaluation of the effects of certain plans and programs on the environment, and the Royal Decree 1/2008, of January the 11th, approving the revised text of the Law on environmental Impact Assessment of projects and later modifications to the text.

This law establishes rules governing the environmental assessment of projects, plans and programs that may have significant effects on the environment. The environmental assessment of plans and programs (Strategic Environmental Assessment) does not exclude the environmental impact assessment of the projects derived from them.

In Catalonia, legislation on environmental impact assessment is as follows:

  • Decree 114/1988 of 7th of April, on Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Law 6/2009 of 28th of April, on Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes.

 Environmental Impact Assessment (projects)

The Environmental Impact Assessments, written based on the state and regional legislation in force regarding environmental impact, are studies intended to predict the consequences of the implementation of a project on the environment and establish corrective measures to minimize their impact.

According to Article 7 of Law 21/2013 of 9th of December, on environmental assessments, projects will be subject to one of the following types of environmental impact assessment:

  • Ordinary: if projects are included in Appendix I, or in Appendix II when the body so decides according to the environmental criteria stated in Appendix III, or any modification of projects included on Appendix I or II when those modifications make the project meet the thresholds set out in Appendix I, and projects in Appendix II when so requested by the developer.
  • Simplified: those projects included in Appendix II and those not included in Appendix I or II that may affect protected areas from the Natura 2000 Network.

There are many activities that require the completion of a mandatory environmental impact assessment. Among them we find most of the major civil engineering works (roads, railways, wind farms, power lines and transformer stations, power stations, telecommunications centres, marinas), general planning and partial urban planning, industrial developments and extensions of industrial soil, water works, golf courses, ski tracks and resorts, service areas, dredging works on rivers, construction of forest tracks and paths, etc...

There are many other activities though which are not obliged to have their environmental impact assessed but, as good practice, they are carried out due to the current social conviction that these studies, far from representing a limitation on the activity, allow a better integration of the project in their natural and socioeconomic environment.