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To assess ‘significance’ ie  whether an EIA is necessary it says the Leopold matrix should be

EIA could be requested under Schedule 2 development.  ie its located in a sensitive area.
The U.K.
The U.K. has large shale resources but the development of those resources is in its infancy. The U.K. Government is committed to encouraging the establishment of a shale gas industry in the U.K.  It is doing so through tax incentives and seeking to streamline the permitting process. The Government has established an Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil which states that its aim is to “promote the safe, responsible, and environmentally sound recovery of the U.K.’s unconventional reserves of gas and oil”.

Current EU law is implemented in respect of onshore activities in the U.K. by various statutes including The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 and The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland)

Regulations 2011 which apply to England and Scotland respectively (there are differences which apply to Wales and Northern Ireland, although the regulations are substantially the same).

The regulations set out the types of activities which require EIAs in the U.K. There are two separate categories:

·         “Schedule 1 development,” for which EIAs are mandatory; and
·         “Schedule 2 development,” for which EIAs are only mandatory if the particular project

is considered likely to give rise to significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as its nature, size, or location (i.e. if it is located in a “sensitive area”).
In England, “Schedule 1 developments” currently include extraction of petroleum and natural gas for commercial purposes where the amount extracted exceeds 500 tonnes per day in the case of petroleum and 500,000 cubic metres per day in the case of gas.  However, other wells may fall under Schedule 2.

Independent of the proposed amendment to the EIA Directive, a number of industry bodies in the U.K. have recently recommended that an environmental risk assessment should be mandatory for all shale gas operations, involving the participation of local communities at the earliest possible opportunity, and that this assessment should address risks across the entire life cycle of shale gas extraction.

In response to these recommendations, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Energy announced in December 2012 that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) would “take steps to enhance the existing frameworks for consultation and consenting to these activities, in line with these recommendations. Licensees will be required to carry out a comprehensive high-level assessment of environmental risks, including risks to human health, and covering the full cycle of the proposed operations, including well abandonment; and to consult with stakeholders including local communities, as early as practicable in the development of their proposals. The scope of these assessments would naturally be framed by the operations proposed, so that prospective future production operations would not be in scope for an assessment drawn up for exploration activities.”

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Environmental impact assessment
An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is an assessment of the possible impacts that a proposed project may have on the environment, consisting of the environmental, social and economic aspects.

The purpose of the assessment is to ensure that decision makers consider the environmental impacts when deciding whether or not to proceed with a project. The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an environmental impact assessment as "the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made."[1] EIAs are unique in that they do not require adherence to a predetermined environmental outcome, but rather they require decision makers to account for environmental values in their decisions and to justify those decisions in light of detailed environmental studies and public comments on the potential environmental impacts.[2]

The Leopold matrix is a qualitative environmental impact assessment method pioneered in 1971.[1] It is used to identify the potential impact of a project on the environment. The system consists of a matrix with columns representing the various activities of the project, and rows representing the various environmental factors to be considered. The intersections are filled in to indicate the magnitude (from -10 to +10) and the importance (from 1 to 10) of the impact of each activity on each environmental factor.

Measurements of magnitude and importance tend to be related, but do not necessarily directly correlate. Magnitude can be measured, in terms of how much area is affected by the developmentand how badly, but importance is a more subjective measurement. While a proposed development may have a large impact in terms of magnitude, the effects it causes may not actually significantly affect the environment as a whole. The example given by Leopold is of a stream that significantly alters the erosion patterns in a specific area, which will have a significant magnitude, but may not be important, provided the stream in question is swift moving and transports large amounts of soil anyway. In this case, an impact of significant magnitude may not actually be important to the environment in question.[1]:5

The European Union has established a mix of mandatory and discretionary procedures to assess environmental impacts.[34] European Union Directive (85/337/EEC) on Environmental Impact Assessments (known as the EIA Directive) [35] was first introduced in 1985 and was amended in 1997. The directive was amended again in 2003, following EU signature of the 1998 Aarhus Convention, and once more in 2009. The initial Directive of 1985 and its three amendments have been codified in Directive 2011/92/EU of 13 December 2011.[36] In 2001, the issue was enlarged to the assessment of plans and programmes by the so-called Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive (2001/42/EC), which is now in force.[34]

Under the EU directive, an EIA must provide certain information to comply.[37] There are seven key areas that are required:

1.    Description of the project
·         Description of actual project and site description
·         Break the project down into its key components, i.e. construction, operations,

·         For each component list all of the sources of environmental disturbance
·         For each component all the inputs and outputs must be listed, e.g., air pollution,

noise, hydrology
2.    Alternatives that have been considered
·         Examine alternatives that have been considered
·         Example: in a biomass power station, will the fuel be sourced locally or nationally?
3.    Description of the environment
·         List of all aspects of the environment that may be affected by the development
·         Example: populations, fauna, flora, air, soil, water, humans, landscape, cultural

·         This section is best carried out with the help of local experts, e.g. the RSPB in the UK
4.    Description of the significant effects on the environment
·         The word significant is crucial here as the definition can vary
·         'Significant' must be defined
·         The most frequent method used here is use of the Leopold matrix
·         The matrix is a tool used in the systematic examination of potential interactions
·         Example: in a windfarm development a significant impact may be collisions with birds
5.    Mitigation
·         This is where EIA is most useful
·         Once section 4 is complete, it is obvious where impacts are greatest
·         Using this information ways to avoid negative impacts should be developed
·         Best working with the developer with this section as they know the project best
·         Using the windfarm example again construction could be out of bird nesting seasons
6.    Non-technical summary (EIS)
·         The EIA is in the public domain and be used in the decision making process
·         It is important that the information is available to the public
·         This section is a summary that does not include jargon or complicated diagrams
·         It should be understood by the informed lay-person
7.    Lack of know-how/technical difficulties
·         This section is to advise any areas of weakness in knowledge
·         It can be used to focus areas of future research
·         Some developers see the EIA as a starting block for poor environmental management


Onshore oil and gas exploratory operations: technical guidanceý
The environment Agency have put many conditions on the Infrastrata application. If there are a substantial amount then could  try for an EIA.   It seems that EIA’s  are avoided because of delaying the application and the cost.

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