Environmental assessments

An environmental assessment is a systematic process that ensures the biodiversity implications for the site of a project or planning proposal are taken into account before decisions are made.


The environmental assessment process involves reporting on the likely effects on the biodiversity, undertaking a public consultation exercise on the report (where necessary), taking these comments and the report into account when making the final decision and finally informing the public of that decision.

An environmental assessment is typically called for during:

  • Pre-application biodiversity screening.
  • Initial impact assessment or site sensitivity analysis.
  • Scoping.
  • Sub-division or rezoning.

There are three main steps (follow the links below):

  1. Orientation: locate the site, work out how to get there, and have the means to record information on a map.
  2. Contextualisation: familiarize yourself with the biodiversity context of the site, which includes identifying potential ‘red flags’ that could either influence the proposed development or trigger the next step.
  3. Investigation: appointing a biodiversity specialist to advise on the project planning or environmental assessment process.

If consulted sufficiently early in project planning, biodiversity information hosted on the BGIS website can make an important contribution to an efficient and informed planning process. These benefits include:

  • Indicating the potential significance of biodiversity as a factor in decision making.
  • Suggesting the degree of effort that may be needed to find a suitable alternative to avoid significant loss of biodiversity or ecosystem function in a particular area
  • Highlighting from the outset the potential need to appoint a biodiversity specialist during project planning and design.
  • Savings in time and expense by knowing the potential biodiversity implications up-front.