Agora Network Sustainable Tourism

Check-list of questions related to environmental assessment (EIA or SEA) to address in planning at local and regional level

This section contains a number of questions that the planner and environmental assessor needs to ask in relation to tourism plans or spatial plans involving tourism development at local or regional level.

* Is there a need for environmental assessment - "screening"
If an environmental permit is needed for the tourism development many jurisdictions will require an EIA for the permit process. As noted above tourism developments may require an EIA regardless of this. Following the EIA directive EU member states are required to set criteria for those tourism facilities that require an EIA.

Comprehensive plans or development plans at local or regional level may require an SEA- whether they entail tourism development or not.

The process of "screening" for factors that may cause "significant environmental impacts" and thus render an EIA or an SEA 

* Is there a need for both an SEA and an EIA

Tourism development and facilities are covered by both the EIA directive  and the SEA directive  of the EU. Thus even if there is no environmental permit process involved for the actual tourism development, facility or infrastructure some jurisdictions may require an EIA for the detailed plan and an SEA for the development plan or comprehensive plan covering the tourism development.

* Does the plan violate environmental standards?

In several jurisdictions no plan may be approved if an environmental assessment indicates that it will lead to violation of environmental quality norms or standards and thresholds

There are basically three types of environmental quality standards  and one further that specifically relates to planning and environmental assessment.

The binding standard which in principle set a fixed and measurable limit or threshold. It is equivalent to legislation and can, in legal terms, be called a norm. Environmental quality norms, EQN can be likened to a stop light, and is supposed to stop any project or plan that will pass a threshold defined by the standard.

A standard giving a guiding threshold value, can be regarded as an imperative for action, but is not necessarily an immediate hindrance for a project or a plan. A programme, planning decision or project permit may violate the standard if this is balanced by being in other respects in the public interests.

A soft standard or an objective operationalised - quantified and time set - as a goal or target value.

A threshold of concern, TOC. This is a threshold tool for screening that focuses on risks of impact rather than on the given characteristics of a project or plan. The risk of passing a threshold is a warning signal to those assessing a project or plan.

* Does the development involve or impact on a Natura 2000 area?

The European nature network Natura 2000 is an important asset in nature tourism as well as in the effort to preserve the biodiversity of Europe. Restrictions on development within Natura 2000 areas are strict and development outside an area that may impact on the area can also be restricted. The risk of significant effects on a Natura 2000 area is sufficient reason to demand and EIA/SEA. Any development directly involving a Natura 2000 area requires environmental assessment.

* Are the tourist operators ecotourism certified?

Ecotourism labelling  or certification is a means of ensuring compliance with standards and requirements that are introduced in regional or comprehensive planning. To specify some form of certification or labelling is one method of ensuring that higher level plans are implemented. Inclusion of a requirement in an SEA is a means of giving guidance to lower levels.

*Are there operational visitor management programmes in protected areas?

Visitor management can be done according to several principles: visitor impact management focuses on the impacts and provides frameworks for environment protection and quality assurance in conservation areas with multiple use. The best known and most widely applied system of impact management is the Limits of Acceptable Change system. Variations on this system exist such as VIM-model .

  Blekinge Tekniska Högskola

   European Tourism Research institute

  EU flag  Baltic sea 
 "Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the BSR INTERREG III B Neighbourhood programme"

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