Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) is responsible for administering the Forestry (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.

These regulations have recently been amended and information on this can be found in Briefing Note 10 – Changes to EIA. The EIA webpage guidance has been updated to reflect these changes, which will be applied to any new applications submitted on the 16th May 2017 and onwards. Please contact your local Conservancy office if you have any questions.

1. What is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?

Some types of forestry project are likely to have a significant impact on the environment.  For such projects, FCS might have to give formal consent for the work to take place.  An Environmental Impact Assessment is used to determine whether consent should be given for work to go ahead.

The types of forestry work that an EIA can apply to are:

  • Afforestation: planting new woods and forests, including direct seeding or natural regeneration, planting Christmas trees or short rotation coppice;
  • Deforestation: felling woodland to use the land for a different purpose;
  • Forest roads: The formation, alteration or maintenance of private ways on land used (or to be used) for forestry purposes. This includes roads within a forest or leading to one; and
  • Forestry quarries: quarrying to obtain materials required for forest road works on land that is used, or will be used, for forestry purposes, or on land held or occupied with that land.

2. Area thresholds

The four project types each carry an area threshold.   If your project is of one of these types then you should check the area thresholds that apply to that type of work.  

If the area covered by your project is over the threshold for that type of project, then you must apply for a formal opinion from FCS to see if our consent is required before you can begin work.
Sensitive areas, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, have low thresholds.

You should use the Screening Opinion Request Form (below) to apply for a formal opinion. You will be asked to supply several pieces of information to help us form a decision, for example a map, a brief description of the project, a description of the environment likely to be significantly affected by the project, and any proposed measure envisaged to avoid or prevent significant adverse effects on the environment.

3. Applying for consent

If our opinion is that the proposed project will have a significant impact on the environment, you must apply for consent from FCS before you begin the project.

Your application for consent must include an EIA Report.

4. Summary of the EIA process

The document Environmental Impact Assessment of Forestry Projects (PDF 1.1Mb) provides more details.  Alternatively, use the links on the right hand side for more information on the individual parts of the EIA process.

5. Penalties

If you carry out work that would have required FCS consent and have not applied for it, or if you breach the conditions of a consent we have already given, then the regulations allow us to issue an Enforcement Notice to remedy the situation.

If you knowingly provide false or misleading information, or withhold information with the intent to deceive in your EIA application then the regulations allow us to pursue a conviction in relation to this.