Public consultation occurs at two stages in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process: the development of the Terms of Reference for the EIA (which outlines the issues to be assessed in the EIA) and upon completion of the Environmental Statement (which is the written report of the full EIA process). There is an optional third stage of public consultation, which occurs during the EIA process. Further detail is provided on each of these stages in the National Conservation Council’s EIA Directive (2016), summarised below:
Public Consultation Stage 1 – Terms of Reference for an EIA
The proponent’s appointed consultancy team, in collaboration with the Environmental Assessment Board, shall develop and refine the scope of the EIA. The end result of the scoping process shall be the Terms of Reference for the EIA.
A draft Terms of Reference shall be released to the public to ensure that it addresses the likely significant issues of importance.
The public consultation for the draft Terms of Reference shall comprise, as a minimum, the following elements:
- Publication of the draft Terms of Reference or a link thereto on the DoE’s website for a period of 21 consecutive days;
- Notification of the publication and public meeting in the local press on two separate occasions, within 10 days prior to the publication of the draft Terms of Reference;
- A public meeting at a venue to be agreed with the EAB to present the draft Terms of Reference. The meeting shall be held at least 7 days prior to the end of the consultation period;
Comments on the published draft Terms of Reference shall be submitted in writing to the EAB c/o the DoE via email, post or hand delivery to the offices of the Department of Environment. Comments from the National Conservation Council on the draft Terms of Reference may also be received at this time. The EAB shall work with the proponent’s consultants to ensure that all relevant comments are reflected in the final Terms of Reference. The proponent shall provide a written response to the consultation comments. All responses shall be appended to the Terms of Reference.
Once the Terms of Reference have been finalised by the EAB and the proponent’s consultant, inclusive of the relevant concerns of the public and the National Conservation Council, the Environmental Impact Assessment can begin.
Public Consultation Stage 2 – Completion of Environmental Statement (ES)
Consultation shall be undertaken upon completion of the draft ES in order to entertain representations by the public or key stakeholder groups with valid concerns associated with the ES. This consultation shall include, as a minimum:
- Publication of the draft ES or a link thereto on the DoE’s website for a period of 21 consecutive days;
- Notification of the publication and public meeting in the local press on two separate occasions, within 10 days prior to the publication of the draft ES;
- A public meeting at a venue to be agreed with the EAB to present the draft ES. The meeting shall be held at least 7 days prior to the end of the consultation period.
The proponent shall respond to and address as appropriate representations received during the consultation on the draft ES. These representations and responses shall be appended to the final ES.
Optional Consultation Stage – During the EIA process
During the EIA process, the proponent shall submit for review by the EAB interim draft documents/chapters of the Environmental Statement and the final report (Environmental Statement – ‘ES’) against the agreed scope and in accordance with a predetermined schedule. Public consultation may be undertaken during the course of the Assessment if such consultation is felt to be advantageous by the applicant or EAB. Consultations shall be undertaken with additional key stakeholders as identified by the EAB.
To view the National Conservation Council’s EIA Directive