What is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?

An EIA is used to determine whether consent should be given for work to go ahead. 

The 4 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 including roads within a forest or leading to one
  • forestry quarries - quarrying to get materials needed for forest road works on land used or to be used for forestry purposes, or on land held or occupied with that land

Area thresholds and sensitive areas

The 4 types of forestry work each carry an area threshold.

Project Threshold where any part of the land is in a sensitive area Threshold where no part of the land is in a sensitive area
Afforestation 2 hectares in a National Scenic Area (NSA) and no threshold in other sensitive areas (listed below) 20 hectares
Deforestation 0.5 hectare in a NSA and no threshold in other sensitive areas 1 hectare
Forest roads No threshold 1 hectare
Forestry quarries No threshold 1 hectare

Thresholds and exceptional circumstances 

A forestry project will be considered as not likely to have a significant effect on the environment if the area covered or to be covered by the project does not exceed any relevant threshold specified in the above table. However, you must apply for consent if we believe there are ‘exceptional circumstances’ which make it likely that the forestry project will have a significant effect on the environment

Please note, if any work has been carried out in the past 5 years to the area adjacent to the project, then this area must also be counted towards the area threshold. 

What is a sensitive area?

A sensitive area can be:

Land Information Search

You can use the Land Information Search to identify any classifications or sensitivities which might affect the project.

Contact details for the organisation responsible for these features will be given on the report produced by the search.

Applying for a formal opinion

If the area covered by your project is over the threshold for that type of project, then you must apply for a formal opinion to see if our consent is needed before you begin work.

Find out how to apply for a formal opinion.

Apply for consent

If the proposed project will have a significant impact on the environment, then you must apply for our consent before you begin work.

Find out how to apply for consent.

Enforcement notices

If we discover that work is being carried out without consent (subject to Environmental Impact Assessment regulations), or an applicant is breaching the terms of a previously granted consent, we may serve an enforcement notice to put things right.

Find out more about enforcement notices.

Related media 

Environmental Impact Assessment for forestry projects - application guidance