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Environmental impact assessment procedure (EIA)

The purpose of the statutory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure is to ensure that the environmental impacts of large projects or projects with other significant impacts are examined extensively enough and with sufficient accuracy. The procedure also ensures that the results of the environmental impact assessment affect the final planning solution and that they are taken into account in any decision making related to the project. The purpose of the EIA procedure is also to increase everyone's opportunities to participate and influence the planning of the project. 

The EIA procedure is linked to the planning phase, where the options are still open and the solutions concerning environmental impacts can still be influenced. In railway and road projects, the EIA procedure is usually implemented during the general planning phase.

The documents produced in connection with the EIA procedure, the assessment programme and the assessment report, are all available for the purpose of presenting opinions and issuing statements. Citizens, authorities and other concerned stakeholders have the opportunity to comment on the environmental impact assessments regarding the options and impacts to be examined.

The EIA programme is the project manager's plan for assessing the environmental impacts of the project and for coordinating participation. The contact authority will issue an opinion on the EIA programme, including a summary of the opinions and statements given by others. The person responsible for the project assesses the impacts of the project and summarises the results in the assessment report (EIA report). Once the EIA report has been completed, the contact authority will issue a reasoned conclusion on the assessment report, in which the contact authority will draw conclusions on the significant environmental impacts of the project.

The EIA procedure will not end with a reasoned conclusion issued on the report, but will continue until the formal approval of the plan. The authority approving railway and road plans will ensure that the reasoned conclusion is up-to-date when the plan is approved.

The assessment procedure is only carried out once during the planning of the project. Once the procedure pursuant to the EIA Act has been carried out in the general planning phase, the procedure will no longer apply to the preparation of a railway or road plan in accordance with the general plan.

Transport projects, which always require the implementation of the procedure laid down in the EIA Act, include:

  • the construction of motorways or express roads, 
  • the construction of a four-lane or larger continuous new road running for a distance of at least 10 km; 
  • the realigning or widening of a road so that the length of the continuous four-lane or larger road section thus formed is at least 10 km, 
  • the construction of long-distance railways tracks,
  • the construction of airports where the main runway is at least 2,100 m long, 
  • the construction of shipping lanes, ports, loading or unloading platforms for vessels of more than 1,350 tonnes predominantly for the use merchant shipping, and 
  • canals, inland waterways or ports for vessels of more than 1350 tonnes deadweight.

In addition to these cases, the assessment procedure is applied in individual cases to a project or a change to a project which is likely to have significant environmental impacts comparable to the effects of the projects listed above in terms of quality and scope.

Legislation and project lists related to the environmental impact assessment procedure:

Laki ympäristövaikutusten arviointimenettelystä (5.5.2017/252), Finlex:

Valtioneuvoston asetus ympäristövaikutusten arviointimenettelystä (11.5.2017/277), Finlex:

YVA-hankkeiden listat ympäristöhallinnon verkkopalvelussa (