Planning Library

Environment and Climate Glossary

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Agricultural Land and Surface WaterThe System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) definition of agricultural land and associated surface water is equivalent to the 1993 System of National Accounts (SNA) category “Land under Cultivation” (AN.2112) except for the qualification on recreational land (See also ‘Recreational Land’) and the exclusion of plantation. The SEEA goes beyond the 1993 SNA in identifying specific sub-categories of agricultural land: cultivated land, pasture land and other agricultural land.
AlternativesOptions for accommodating the future development needs of an area within the constraints imposed by environmental conditions.
Alternative Energy SourcesRenewable energy sources that are not produced from the use of fossil fuels, for example wind, solar or biomass energy.
Annex I HabitatA habitat listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive which is the European Commission’s Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna.
Annex II HabitatA habitat listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive which is the European Commission’s Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna.
Annex II SpeciesAre species protected under the Habitats Directive. There are about 900 species listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive. Core areas of their habitat are designated as sites of community importance (See also ‘Sites of Community Importance’) and included in the Natura 2000 network. These sites must be managed in accordance with the ecological needs of the species.
Annex IV SpeciesAre species protected under the Habitats Directive. There are over 400 species listed in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive, including many Annex II species for which a strict protection regime must be applied across their entire natural range within the EU, both within and outside Natura 2000 sites.
Annex V SpeciesAre species protected under the Habitats Directive. There are over 90 species listed for protection in Annex V. European Union Member States must ensure that their exploitation and taking in the wild is compatible with maintaining them in a favourable conservation status.
Appropriate AssessmentAn assessment of the likely significant effects of a plan or project (in combination with other plans or projects) on the Natura 2000 site network, which in Ireland comprises Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas. These sites are protected by National and European law. The assessment is underpinned by the precautionary principle whereby a proposal cannot be granted permission if significant impacts are anticipated or cannot be ruled out. It entails the preparation of a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) for projects, or a Natura Impact Report (NIR) for plans under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010.
Appropriate Assessment Conclusion Report The statement of a competent authority of its decision on an appropriate assessment and the reasons for its decision.
AuthorityThe organisation which prepares and/or adopts a plan or programme subject to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive 2001/42/EC and is responsible for the formal, systematic evaluation of the likely significant environmental effects of implementing a plan or programme before a decision is made to adopt the plan or programme.
Baseline Environment Study/Survey Description of the existing environment against which future changes can be measured. This study/survey serves the purpose of a base reference against which the changes due to implementation of the project are measured.
Biodiversity The variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems (UN Convention on Biological Diversity 1992).
Biodiversity Impact AssessmentAn assessment of the potential implications of a plan, programme or project for biodiversity undertaken to ensure that it conserves biodiversity, results in sustainable use of biodiversity resources, and is legally compliant. (See also ‘Ecological Impact Assessment’).
BioenergyA form of renewable energy derived from a biomass fuel source.
BiofuelsA fuel that is produced directly or indirectly from organic materials such as plant materials or animal waste.
BiomassA fuel source comprising of living or recently dead plant life such as leaves and the biodegradable part of industrial and municipal waste.
Biosphere ReserveBiosphere reserves promote solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are learning areas for sustainable development under diverse ecological, social and economic contexts. There are currently 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries, including 21 transboundary sites, that belong to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. There are two biosphere reserves in Ireland, Dublin Bay and Kerry. (See also ‘World Network of Biosphere Reserves’).
Birds DirectiveCouncil Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds. It aims to protect all of the 500 wild bird species naturally occurring in the European Union.
Building Energy RatingBuilding Energy Rating (BER) is an assessment of your homes energy performance. It is calculated through energy use for space and hot water heating, ventilation and lighting. BERs are awarded on a scale grade from A-G, with A being the most energy efficient. From January 2009 all purchased or rented homes must have a BER certificate. Certificates may only be issued after an assessment has been carried out by a BER assessor registered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. BER certificates are valid for ten years.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Carbon Dioxide is a colourless, odourless and non-poisonous greenhouse gas formed by combustion of carbon and in the respiration of living organisms.
Carbon Footprint A measure of the impact human activities has on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced through the burning of fossil fuels. It is expressed as a weight of emissions CO2 produced in tonnes. A carbon footprint can be used as a marker on the impact an individual can have on global warming.
Carbon NeutralPertaining to or having achieved a state in which the net amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is reduced to zero, due to a balance produced by reducing or offsetting actions. (See also ‘Renewable Energy’).
Carbon OffsetA reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made to compensate for other emissions elsewhere. Offsets are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e).
Civic Amenity SiteA public or private facility that accepts recyclable and non-recyclable materials, this can also be referred to as a Recycling Centre.
Climate Action Plan A detailed and strategic framework for measuring, planning and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and related climatic impacts. Drafted in 2019 the objective of the Plan is to enable Ireland to meet its EU targets to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 per cent between 2021 and 2030 and lay the foundations for achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Climate Action Regional Offices (CARO)Four local authority climate action offices were established in Ireland to help drive climate action at regional and local level. They were set up in response to Action 8 of the 2018 National Adaptation Framework (NAF). The four different regions are grouped according to shared climate risks. They are based in: Eastern and Midlands, Atlantic Seaboard South, Atlantic Seaboard North, and Dublin Metropolitan area. The CARO’s are operated by a lead Local Authority in each region.
Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act (2015) This Act provides for the approval of plans by the Government in relation to climate change for the purpose of transitioning to a low carbon, climate resilient, and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050 and provided for the establishment of the Climate Change Advisory Council.
Climate ChangeA change in the average conditions such as rainfall and temperature, in a specific region over time and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
Competent AuthorityAre those authorities that are entitled to give authorisation or consent to a plan or project. In the planning system, this means planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála. There are, however, a wide range of other competent authorities in respect of other consent regimes e.g. EPA (environmental licencing), Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (forestry, aquaculture and foreshore management), and various state bodies that have authority to undertake development under Part 9 of the Planning and Development Regulations (e.g. An Garda Síochána, defence forces, the courts service).
Conservation Preservation of protected animal species and resources through planned and non-planned (preventative) action.
Conservation Objective In the context of Natura 200 sites a site-specific conservation objective aims to define the favourable conservation conditions for a particular habitat or species at that site.
Cumulative EffectIncremental effects resulting from a combination of two or more individual effects (e.g. two or more individual plans or projects), or from an interaction between individual effects – which may lead to a synergistic effect (i.e. greater than the sum of individual effects), or any progressive effect likely to emerge over time. (See also ‘In-combination Effects’.)
Development Applications Unit (DAU) The Development Applications Unit in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage coordinates the evaluation of planning applications that might have significant effects in relation to nature conservation, architectural heritage and/or archaeology.
DesignatedThe term ‘designated’ should be taken to include the following nature conservation sites: international sites (e.g. Ramsar, Biosphere Reserve), European sites (i.e. SACs and SPAs), national sites (e.g. NHAs, pNHAs, Nature Reserves) and any other designated sites (e.g. National Parks, Wildfowl Sanctuaries, Refuges for Fauna) that are designated by law, national policy or land use planning, or are going through the process of designation, and have legally protected status.
Designated Environmental AuthorityAn organisation that must be consulted in accordance with Article 5(4) of the SEA Directive. For Ireland these organisations are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).
Ecological Impact Assessment Process of identifying, quantifying and evaluating the potential impacts of defined actions on ecosystems or their components. It can be carried out as part of a formal SEA/EIA or to support other forms of environmental assessment or appraisal. (See also ‘Biodiversity Impact Assessment’).
EcologyThe study of the inter-relationships between living organisms and their environment.
Eco-TourismSmall-scale tourism in fragile and protected areas that aims to have a low impact on the environment, benefit local communities and enable tourists to learn more about the natural and cultural history of the place. (See also ‘Sustainable Tourism’).
Environmental AssessmentThis is a method or procedure for predicting the effects on the environment of a proposal, either for an individual project or a higher-level ‘“strategy” (a policy, plan or programme), with the aim of taking account of these effects in decision making.
Environmental Characteristics Environmental resources, issues and trends in the area affected by the Plan/Programme.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)An EIA is a process of assessment of the effects of a project or development proposal on the environment. In the planning area, it is undertaken by a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála during the consideration of applications for planning permission, taking account of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR). The projects which require EIA are listed in Annex I and Annex II of the EIA Directive , as amended.
Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR)An EIAR is a report or statement of the effects, if any, which the proposed project, if carried out, would have on the environment. It is prepared by the developer to inform the EIA process.
Environmental IndicatorAn environmental indicator is a measure of an environmental variable over time, used to measure the achievement of environmental objectives and targets.
Environmental Management System (EMS)An EMS is the term used to describe the overall management system a company can use to integrate environmental issues within the existing management and operating systems, allowing it to conduct its activities while ensuring the associated environmental impacts are managed.
Environmental ObjectiveEnvironmental objectives are broad, overarching principles which should specify a desired direction of environmental change.
Environmental ReceptorsInclude biodiversity, population, human health, fauna, flora, soil, water, air, climatic factors, material assets, cultural heritage (including architectural and archaeological) and landscape as listed in the SEA Directive. This list is not exhaustive, and can include other receptors which may arise for a particular plan/programme.
Environmental ReportThis report is required by the SEA Directive (2001/42/EC) as part of an environmental assessment, which identifies, describes and evaluates the likely significant effects on the environment of implementing a plan or programme.
Environmental TargetA target usually underpins an objective often having a time deadline that should be met and should be accompanied by limits or thresholds.
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)The EEB is the largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe. It consists of over 160 member organisations in more than 35 countries, including a growing number of European networks.
European SiteThe term European site has the meaning assigned to it in the EC (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, which is also commonly known as a Natura 2000 site. (See also ‘Natura 2000’).
Ex SituOutside – usually in the context of ex situ effects (or outside effects) on a Natura 2000 site. For example, abstraction of water from a river upstream of a Natura 2000 site located on the river could have an ex situ effect on the site.
Favourable Conservation Status (FCS) An FCS refers to an approach to habitat/species conservation through a system based on functioning ecological networks, provision of ecosystem services and resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Flora and FaunaNative plants and animals to a particular area or period of time.
Fossil FuelA non-renewable fuel source, such as coal, gas, peat and oil.
Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)Established in 1981 FEE is the world’s largest environmental education organisation, with members in 77 countries. It is a non-governmental, non-profit environmental education organisation. FEE is active through five programmes: Blue Flag, Eco-Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment, Learning about Forests and Green Key International.
Geographic InformationInformation about the about places on the earth's surface. (See also ‘Geospatial Data’ and ‘Spatial Data’).
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)An array of technological tools for the management, analysis and display of spatial data that can provide evidence-based information to support biodiversity impact assessment and natural resource management.
GeologyScience of the earth, including the composition, structure and origin of its rocks.
Geospatial DataGeospatial data is data about objects, events, or phenomena that have a location on the surface of the earth. (See also ‘Geographic Information’ and ‘Spatial Data’).
Green House Gases (GHG)Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. They include Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and Fluorinated gases.
Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) The GSI is the national earth science agency. It is a division of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. It is responsible for providing high quality data and reliable geoscience support and advice for the sustainable development of Ireland's natural resources (including groundwater), environmental protection, climate change, citizen safety and efficient spatial planning.
HabitatA place in which a particular plant or animal lives. Often used in a wider sense, referring to major assemblages of plants and animals found together such as woodlands or grassland.
Habitats DirectiveIn order to ensure the survival of Europe’s most endangered and vulnerable species, EU governments adopted the Habitats Directive in 1992 (Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora). The Habitats Directive protects around 1200 European species other than birds which are considered to be endangered, vulnerable, rare and/or endemic. Over 1,000 animal and plant species, as well as 200 habitat types, listed in the directive's annexes are protected in various ways.
HydrologyScience concerned with the occurrence and circulation of water in all its phases and modes.
In-combination EffectsIncremental effects resulting from a combination of two or more plans and/or projects, an assessment requirement under the Habitats Directive. (See also ‘Cumulative Effects’).
IndicatorsData that provide information about more than the data themselves (i.e. that indicate or provide a proxy for the overall status or some aspect of the status of a specific biodiversity or environmental parameter).
In SituInside or within – usually in the context of in situ effects (or effects within) on a Natura 2000 site. For example, constructing a marina on the lakeshore in a Natura 2000 site could have an in situ effect.
INSPIRE DirectiveEstablishes an infrastructure for spatial information in the EU to support community environmental policies, and policies or activities that may have an impact on the environment.
Integrated Biodiversity ImpactA systematic framework for biodiversity impact assessment that integrates SEA requirements with AA for plans and programmes and EIA with AA for projects. The framework is envisaged to co-ordinate the collection of data, amalgamate assessment processes, promote best practice, optimise time and resources, reduce/avoid duplication of efforts by developers, assessors and the administration by improving communication channels and data sharing, enhance the congruence and efficiency of legal, administrative and operational processes, and achieve best results for the protection and conservation of biodiversity.
Key Environmental IssuesSignificant environmental issues, which are of particular relevance and significance within a Plan/Programme (P/P) area and/or the zone of influence of that P/P. These issues should be identified during the SEA scoping process.
Key Environmental ReceptorsAspects of the environment likely to be significantly impacted by the proposed Plan/Programme.
Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) LVIA is the technique used to assess the effects of change on the landscape.
Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) The MAB programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme established by UNESCO that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments. It combines the natural and social sciences with a view to improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural and managed ecosystems.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)MSP is a process that brings together multiple users of the ocean to make informed and coordinated decisions about how to use marine resources sustainably. It is a process by which the relevant public authorities analyse and organise human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives.
Mitigation MeasuresMeasures designed to prevent, reduce and, as fully as possible, offset any significant adverse impacts on biodiversity (and other environmental components) of implementing a plan/programme or project.
MonitoringThe periodic or continuous observation of biodiversity indicators and of other parameters that may affect biodiversity for any changes that may occur over time, so as to confirm predictions made with respect to likely effects and identify adverse changes that may require remedial action.
Monitoring ProgrammeA detailed description of the monitoring arrangements to be put in place to carry out the monitoring of the impact of the proposed Plan/Programme on the environment including; frequency of monitoring, who has responsibility for monitoring, and responses if monitoring identifies significant negative impacts.
National Adaptation Framework (NAF) (2018) The NAF sets out the national strategy to reduce the vulnerability of the country to the negative effects of climate change and to avail of positive impacts. The NAF was developed under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.
National Biodiversity Plan (NBP) (2002)This plan was prepared in response to Article 6 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The plan sets out actions through which a range of government, civil and private sectors will undertake to achieve Ireland’s ‘Vision for Biodiversity’. The current NBP plan covers the period 2017-2021.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)The NPWS is part of the Heritage Division of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. It is responsible for the conservation and maintenance of ecosystems, to advise and designate on the protection of habitats and species identified for nature conservation, and the management and maintenance of state parks.
National Transition ObjectiveDefined in the 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act as achieving transition to a competitive, low carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. It can also be referred to as ‘National Policy Position’.
Natura 2000Network EU-wide network of nature conservation areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive (and 1979 Birds Directive). The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It includes Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) .
Nature Conservation AreaA term used to describe the protected nature conservations sites i.e. the proposed Natural Heritage Areas, the candidate Special Areas of Conservation and the Special Protection Areas.
Natura Impact Report (NIR)A statement for the purposes of Article 6 of the Habitats Directive, of the implications of a land use plan, on its own or in combination with other plans or projects, for one or more than one European Site, in view of the conservation objectives of the site or sites. This is prepared by the competent authority.
Natura Impact Statement (NIS) A statement, for the purposes of Article 4 of the Habitats Directive, of the implications of a proposed development, on its own or in combination with other plans or projects, for one or more than one European site, in view of the conservation objectives of the site or sites. This is prepared by the applicant.
Natural HeritageRefers to habitats and species of flora and fauna.
Natural Heritage Area (NHA) These areas are basic designations for wildlife. The designated NHAs are considered important for the habitats present or which holds species of plants and animals whose habitat needs protection.
Non-technical SummaryThese are required as part of both the SEA and EIA processes. For SEA, a summary of the findings of the Environmental Report (ER), summarised under the headings listed in Annex 1 of the SEA Directive that can be readily understood by decision-makers and by the general public. It should accurately reflect the findings of the ER. In relation to EIA a developer must include a Non-technical summary within the EIAR, this should be concise and comprehensive and written in language easily understood by a lay member of the public.
Plan or Programme (P/P) (In an environmental context) Including those co-financed by the European Community, as well as any modifications to them which are subject to preparation and/or adoption by an authority at national, regional or local level or which are prepared by an authority for adoption, through a legislative procedure by Parliament or Government, and; which are required by legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions. In accordance with the SEA Directive, P/P that require SEA are those that fulfil the conditions listed in Article 2(a) and Article 3 of the SEA Directive.
Post-mitigation Residual ImpactsEnvironmental effects that remain after mitigation measures have been employed.
Pollution AbatementTechnology or methods applied to reduce or eliminate pollution and its impact on the environment.
Precautionary PrincipleA principle underlying the concept of sustainable development which implies that prudent action be taken to protect the environment even in the absence of scientific certainty.
Priority HabitatNatural habitat types included in Annex I of the Habitats Directive, and indicated by an asterisk (*), which are in danger of disappearance, and for which the Community has particular responsibility in view of the proportion of their natural range which falls within the territory.
Priority SpeciesSpecies for the conservation of which the Community has particular responsibility in view of the proportion of their natural range which falls within the territory, these priority species are indicated by an asterisk (*) in Annex II of the Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. At present, Ireland does not have any priority species.
ProposalIn an environmental context plan/programmes refer to SEA, while projects relate to EIA. In the context of AA, Article 6(3) refers to plans and projects only, programmes and collection of projects being embedded within the term ‘plans’ and activities within the term ‘project’. (See also ‘Proposal’ in the Planning glossary).
Proposed Natural Heritage Area (PNHA)(See ‘Natural Heritage Area’).
Proxy DataIs a measure of activity resulting from a Plan/Programme (P/P) which provides information on environmental impact without the need for a direct measure of an environmental receptor.
Qualifying Interests Habitats and species of interest, under the Birds and Habitats Directives, that establish the reason(s) for designating a site or making a site a candidate for designation as an SAC or SPA.
Reasonable Alternatives Alternatives should take into account the objectives and geographical scope of the Plan/Programme (P/P). There can be different ways of fulfilling the P/P objectives, or of dealing with environmental problems. The alternatives should be realistic, capable of implementation and should fall within the legal and geographical competence of the authority concerned.
Recreational LandLand used for purposes of recreation such as: sports fields, green areas, camping sites and public parks.
River Basin Management Plan (RBMP)(2018-2021) Launched in 2018, the RBMP set out a national approach to protecting Ireland’s water bodies. Key actions such as wastewater treatment, agriculture, resource management and source protection are highlighted. It is hoped the plan will achieve the improvement of water quality in 726 water bodies, with improvement in Water Framework Directive water quality status in 152 water bodies in Ireland by 2021.
Scoping In the context of SEA, this is the process for determining the content of the the Environmental Report (ER), to ensure the relevant environmental issues are identified so that they can be addressed appropriately in the ER.Scoping is carried out in consultation with the environmental authorities. Scoping in the context of EIA is an early stage in the EIA process, the purpose of which is to identify the information to be contained in an EIAR and the methodology to be used in gathering and assessing that information.
ScreeningDetermination of the need for an environmental assessment (under the SEA and EIA Directives) or AA (under the Habitats Directive).
SEA RegulationsIn Ireland the Planning and Development (Strategic Environmental Assessment) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 436 of 2004) came into effect on 14 July, 2004. These together with amendments to the principal planning and development act, saw the transposition of the SEA Directive into planning law in Ireland. The Minister also published Section 28 planning guidelines in 2004 which further assist in the implementation of the SEA Directive and regulations.
Sensitivity Potential for significant change to any element in the environment that is subject to impacts.
Site of Community Importance (SIC)An SCI is defined in the European Commission Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) as a site which, in the biogeographical region or regions to which it belongs, contributes significantly to the maintenance or restoration, at a favourable conservation status, of a natural habitat type in Annex I or of a species in Annex II and may also contribute significantly to the coherence of Natura 2000 referred to in Article 3, and/or contributes significantly to the maintenance of biological diversity within the biogeographic region or regions concerned.
Significant Environmental EffectSignificance is a function of impact magnitude and the importance/sensitivity of the resources of the receptor. Effects on the environment which are significant in the context of a plan or programme. Criteria for assessing significance are set out in Annex II of the SEA Directive.
Spatial AnalysisAnalytical techniques associated with the study of locations of geographic phenomena, their spatial dimensions and their associated attributes.
Spatial DataField observations/measurements linked to a location. (See also ‘Geographic Information’ or ‘Geospatial Data’).
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs): SACs are sites designated under European Communities Directive 92/43/EEC known as the ‘Habitats Directive’. This requires the conservation of important, rare or threatened habitats and species (not birds, which are protected by Special Protection Areas) across Europe.
Special Protection Areas (SPAs) SPAs are sites designated under the European Communities Directive 79/409/EEC, known as the ‘Birds Directive’, to conserve the habitats of certain migratory or rare birds.
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) SEA is a process for evaluating the environmental consequences of certain public policies, plans or programmes, including development plans and local area plans in the spatial planning area. This ensures that any potential impacts on the environment are considered at a strategic level.
Strategic Environmental Assessment DirectiveEuropean Directive 2001/42/EC “on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment”.
Strategic Environmental Assessment StatementA statement summarising: how environmental considerations have been integrated into the Plan/Programme (P/P), how the Environmental Report, the opinions of the public and designated authorities, and the results of transboundary consultations have been taken into account, and the reasons for choosing the P/P as adopted in the light of other reasonable alternatives.
Strategic Environmental Objectives (SEO)Methodological measure against which the environmental effects of the plan can be tested. SEA objectives are distinct from the plan objectives although will often overlap. SEA Objectives are developed from, national, international and regional policy.
Sub-ThresholdThe carrying out of an EIA is mandatory for the types of development listed in Part 1 or Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended. These are developments considered to be likely to have significant effects on the environment. Some of the classes of development listed in Schedule 5 have thresholds beyond which there is a mandatory requirement for EIA. If the proposed development is listed as a class of development but is below the threshold, it is referred to as sub-threshold development. In these cases, the planning authority must consider if the proposed development is likely to have any significant effects on the environment that should be assessed through the EIA process. This is known as ‘EIA screening’.
Sustainability AppraisalA form of assessment used in the UK, particularly for regional and local planning, since the 1990s. It considers social and economic effects as well as environmental ones, and appraises them in relation to the aims of sustainable development.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)As defined by the United Nations, SDGs are the blueprint to achieving a better and more sustainable future for the earth. They address global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. There are currently 17 SDGs.
Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)A form of drainage that aims to control run-off as close to its source as possible using a sequence of management practices and control structures designed to drain surface water in a more sustainable fashion than some conventional techniques.
System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA)Served as a framework to guide integrating environmental, economic and social data into a singular, coherent framework. This framework contains internationally agreed standards in regards to concepts, definitions, classifications, accounting rules and tables for producing internationally comparable statistics and accounts. The SEEA framework follows a similar accounting structure as the System of National Accounts (SNA).
System of National Accounts (SNA)An internationally agreed standard set of recommendations on how best to compile measures of economic activity.
Thermal Pollution The degradation of water quality threatening aquatic life, through industrial processes that affect ambient water temperature.
ThresholdMagnitude of a project, which if exceeded, will trigger the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Total Primary Energy Requirement (TPER) TPER is a measure of your energy consumption that also accounts for the energy that is consumed and/or lost beyond the boundary of your organisation, notably in generating and distributing the electricity that you use.
TransboundaryIn an environmental context transboundary refers to any potential environmental effects that may occur across administrative boundaries, such as townlands, counties or national, and commonly refers to transboundary resources (e.g. protected areas or waterbodies shared by two or more jurisdictions).
Urban Runoff Wet (rain) or dry (wastewater) weather which flows from urban landscapes into water drainage systems, eventually ending up in the sea/ocean. It is one of the largest water pollution sources in cities.
Visual Absorption Capacity (VAC)The VAC attempts to measure the inherent ability of a landscape to absorb development without loss of visual integrity, i.e., still maintain its visual character. The more complex the landscape, the higher the VAC.
Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) WEEE is electrical and electronic equipment that is broken or unwanted.
Water Framework Directive (WFD)EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) is a framework established to protect all waters including rivers, lakes, estuaries, groundwater and coastal water, along with their dependent wildlife and habitats under a single piece of environmental legislation. The WFD focuses on: the protection and enhancement of all water, the involvement of the public, management of water bodies based on rivers/catchments and the achievement of 'good status'.
Wider BiodiversityThe term ‘wider biodiversity’ is used to refer to biodiversity-relevant areas or habitats and species of ecological interest/value that are not designated (or protected), or that are not in the process leading to designation.
Wildlife and Sustainable Farming Initiative (2006-2008)The term ‘wider biodiversity’ is used to refer to biodiversity-relevant areas or habitats and species of ecological interest/value that are not designated (or protected), or that are not in the process leading to designation.
World Network of Biosphere Reserves (UNESCO)The World Network of Biosphere Reserves of the ‘Man and Biosphere’ (MAB) Programme consists of a dynamic and interactive network of sites of excellence. It fosters the harmonious integration of people and nature for sustainable development.
Zone of Influence (ZoI) ZoI is defined as the area over which the proposed development would affect the receiving environment such that it could potentially have significant effects on the qualifying interests or SCI of a European site, or on the achievement of their conservation objectives.


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