Assessment requirements

The planning programme should clarify the need for Environmental impact assessments and risk and vulnerability assessments.

Planning programme

The purpose of the planning programme is to strengthen the initial phase of the planning work. Steps shall be taken to ensure a broad, transparent and more comprehensive discussion about the assumptions and scope of the planning work than was carried out in connection with the planning strategy. A key part of the work on the planning programme is clarification of the need for assessments.

Environmental impact assessment

The Planning and Building Act and the Regulations relating to Environmental Impact Assessments specify which plans shall be subject to an environmental impact assessment.
• Regional plans with guidelines for future development objectives
• The land use element of municipal master plans
• Zoning plans that may have a significant impact on the environment and society.

These plans shall be considered pursuant to the provisions of the Regulations relating to Environmental Impact Assessments. The Regulations set out requirements for the assessment and documentation of important consequences, over and above the general requirements for plan descriptions.

For the land use element of a municipal master plan, the focus of the environmental impact assessment should be to answer questions relating to localisation and land use objectives.

The assessment must emphasise:
• important environmental and social values in the proposed development areas
• the impact that the development may have on these values
• what can be done to reduce negative consequences.

Assessment of alternatives should be a key focus in the land use element of the municipal master plan. By ‘alternatives’ are meant both alternative solutions for overriding development patterns and alternative specific development proposals.

Environmental impact assessments pursuant to other legislation

Big development projects that are considered pursuant to other legislation, such as wind power plants pursuant to the Energy Act. Norway has joint regulations that cover the EUs ‘planning directive’ and ‘project directive’.

The Act entails that the provisions on environmental impact assessments are now incorporated in provisions for the individual types of plans. This means that environmental impact assessments are fully integrated in the actual planning work. Pursuant to the new Act, environmental impact assessment shall also be carried out for plans that significantly deviate from the land use element of a municipal master plan or from a zoning plan. The Regulations relating to Environmental Impact Assessments were revised in 2009 on the basis of the amendments to the new Act.

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation is working on several guides in the environmental impact assessment area. A revision of the Regulations relating to Environmental Impact Assessments has also been initiated based on a query from EFTA’s Surveillance Agency ESA.

Risk and vulnerability assessments

ALL development plans pursuant to the Planning and Building Act shall include a risk and vulnerability assessment that identifies risk and vulnerability factors that have a bearing on the development in question.