Development projects, including roads projects, require consent under the planning and roads legislation and other relevant legislation. An environmental impact assessment is required in the case of major development projects, in accordance with the requirement of EU Directive 85/377/EEC, as amended. The directive requires, inter alia, the preparation, by the proposer of the development, of an environmental impact statement setting out the details of the project and the likely significant effects of the development on the environment. This process allows for adverse effects, including those on built and natural heritage, to be identified at an early stage and necessary changes to be made on foot of recommendations made by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government or other consultees. The environmental impact statements must be taken into account by the local planning authorities, An Bord Pleanála and other consenting authorities when they are making decisions on proposed projects.
The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is a statutory consultee under planning, roads and other legislation in respect of individual planning applications and other specific development projects. It is consulted on the heritage implications of such projects. Recommendations made by the Department on built and natural heritage in this way are taken into account by the consenting authority in the decision-making process. Regulations made in July 2004 transpose into national legislation EU Directive 2001/42/EC, commonly known as the SEA Directive, which relates to the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment. The Department is one of a number of designated authorities which must be consulted by planning authorities at various stages of the SEA process, by reference to my Department's responsibility for the protection of architectural and archaeological heritage and nature conservation. The comments of environmental authorities on draft plans and programmes and associated environmental reports must be taken into account before the plans or programmes are adopted. I refer also to my reply to Questions Nos. 249 and 250 of 30 September 2004.