Environmental impact assessment

Environmental impact means any potential direct or indirect impact of an activity on human health and well-being, the environment, cultural heritage or property. General purpose of strategic environmental assessment is to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to prevent or minimise the potential negative environmental impact. The supervisor of environmental impact assessment is the Ministry of the Environment or the Environmental Board.

As an undertaking, you may become a subject to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) upon applying for different development consents. In such case, the need to carry out the EIA will be decided by the issuer of development consent.

Development consents within the scope of the environmental impact assessment:

  • a building permit;
  • a permit of use of a building;
  • an integrated environmental permit;
  • a permit for special use of water;
  • an ambient air pollution permit;
  • a waste permit;
  • a hazardous waste handling licence;
  • radiation practice licence;
  • a superficies licence;
  • an extraction permit for mineral resources;
  • a geological exploration permit;
  • a permit for general geological survey;
  • other documents not specified in this section permitting the proposed activity with potentially significant environmental impact.

Environmental impact assessment may be ordered from a person who holds a licence for environmental impact assessment or a legal person through an employee holding a relevant licence.

Environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment

Aim of environmental impact assessment (EIA)

The aim is to give decision makers information on the environmental impact of all real courses of action and to propose the most suitable option of solution.

Purposes of strategic environmental assessment (SEA)

To contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of strategic planning documents.

Transboundary assessment

Upon initiation of the environmental impact assessment, it is necessary to check whether your activities are likely to have significant impact beyond the Estonian borders. It applies also to the implementation of strategic planning document. In case of transboundary environmental assessment, the person who has initiated the assessment must notify the Ministry of Environment immediately thereof.

Natura assessment

Potential environmental impact on the network of Natura 2000 sites will be assessed pursuant to the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act. Natura assessment will be conducted, if necessary, within the framework of the procedure for impact assessment, but certain differences must be taken into consideration upon deciding on the activities. As regards Natura assessment, it is essential to take into consideration the purpose of a site protection.

Map of Natura 2000 sites

Mandatory nature of environmental impact assessment

Environmental impact will be assessed:

  • upon application for a development consent if the proposed activity, which is the basis for application for or amendment of the development consent, potentially results in significant environmental impact;
  • if activities are proposed, which alone or in conjunction with other activities may potentially significantly affect a Natura 2000 site.

Basis for the initiation of environmental impact assessment:

  • List of activities established by a legal act which require the initiation of assessment
  • Provided by a legal act, if preliminary assessment has led to the conclusion that the proposed activity potentially results in significant environmental impact (decision is made by deliberation).

Activities requiring the initiation of EIA

Last amended: 01-06-2016 15:04 | Compiled by: Ministry of Environment