Environmental impact assessment

In an environmental impact assessment (EIA) we investigate a future plan or construction project’s impact on the local environment. We identify all environmental impact at an early stage, including harmful impact, and advise our clients on how this impact can be minimised.

If you want certainty that your project will receive a permit, help the government agencies take the right decision by submitting a thorough environmental impact assessment together with your permit request.

Team of EIA coordinators and experts

Witteveen+Bos Belgium has a team of experts that produces various impact assessments. Our staff coordinates the EIA from the tender stage through to the submission of an application and any follow-up, so you can rely on us to ensure smooth preparation of your impact assessment.

In concrete terms, this means that we ask our own (accredited) EIA coordinators and accredited EIA experts to prepare EIAs for projects, plans, and project exemptions and EIA screening memoranda for projects and plans. We also request support from a permanent group of subcontractors for several other disciplines.

Different EIA procedures

An environmental impact assessment can vary in form, depending on several parameters:

  • the procedure: planning or permit request for a project
  • the nature of the plan or project: the size, is it significant and/or located in a vulnerable area


An EIA can also be used as a review, design or environment optimisation tool. The alternative considerations and assessment of the environmental impact (per discipline) form the most important aspects of an environmental impact assessment.

There are various forms of environmental impact assessment. Witteveen+Bos guides you through the various processes.

EIA screening for projects

An EIA screening obligation applies to some smaller projects. If your project is described in appendix III of the EIA Decree (2004), you need to screen the impact of your plans.

It is only mandatory to draw up an EIA screening for projects and submit this together with your permit request if this EIA screening reveals that the plans are expected to result in significant environmental impact.

We examine the same disciplines in this process as in an EIA for projects, but the scope of the study is somewhat more limited. Moreover, such an EIA screening for projects takes place simultaneously with preparing the all-in-one permit application file.

EIA exemption file for projects

Are you planning a large or far-reaching project, but you do not expect this to have significant impact on the local environment? This will probably be described in appendix II of the EIA Decree (2004).

In this case Witteveen+Bos will produce an EIA exemption request for your project. We detail various disciplines in such an exemption file if it is expected that these will play an important role in the project and possibly cause significant impact.

If it is already clear at the start of the contract that significant impact will occur, we advise that you prepare an EIA for the project. It is also necessary to prepare an EIA for the project if significant impact is identified during the assessment in the exemption request.

EIA for projects

For large or significant projects, which are included in Appendix I of the EIA Decree (2004), Witteveen+Bos prepares an EIA for projects for inclusion with the all-in-one permit application.

The need for such an EIA for projects depends on such things as production volume, the length of line routes such as railways, motorways, pipelines or the surface or location in sensitive areas, etc. It is also necessary to prepare an EIA for projects if a project is not included in Appendix I of the EIA Decree but is nevertheless expected to impact the local environment.

We make a distinction between key disciplines and ancillary disciplines in the EIA for projects:

  • Key disciplines: these are the environmental disciplines for which the most important impact is expected during project implementation. An accredited EIA expert prepares such an impact assessment and if significant impact is identified during this study, we suggest mitigating measures.
  • Ancillary disciplines: these are the disciplines in the EIA for projects for which no significant impact is expected, but that, given the nature of the project, must be investigated. The development of these impact assessments is approached in a qualitative and general way and is carried out by the coordinator of the project. 

EIA screening for plans

We produce an EIA screening for plans when plans or programmes form the authorisation framework for projects that are included in Appendix III of the EIA Decree (2004) and where no environmental impact is expected.

In concrete terms, we examine the same disciplines in this process as in an EIA for plans, but the scope of the study is somewhat more limited. If the EIA screening for plans is produced in the context of a spatial implementation plan (SIP), this will be done through the integrated procedure.

We also prepare an EIA screening memorandum for the plans listed below. However, in these cases it is not necessary to prepare a full EIA for such plans.  

  • Plans that relate to a small area at local level.
  • Plans that only entail a small change and in which no impact is expected.

EIA for plans

We prepare EIAs for plans and programmes, such as zoning changes that enable authorisation of large or major projects as listed in Appendix I or II of the EIA Decree (2004).

An EIA for plans is also required for plans and programmes when an appropriate assessment (impact study on habitat and bird protection areas) is required.

All spatial implementation plans are subject to the EIA for plans regulation. If these plans do not relate to a small area at local level or involve major changes, an EIA for plans must be prepared. We have been doing this in an integrated procedure together with SIPs since 2017.

An EIA for plans is also needed if it is expected that a plan that concerns a small local area or implies a minor change will nevertheless impact the local environment.


More information?

Roel Vleeracker

PMC manager Environmental Development and Management