4-3 Project lists for screening

Project lists are widely used to screen proposals. These lists are of two types. Most are ‘inclusion’ lists, which describe the project types and size thresholds that are known or considered to have significant or serious environmental impacts. Usually, listed projects that fall within these predetermined thresholds will be subject automatically to full and comprehensive EIA. Some EIA systems also maintain ‘exclusion’ lists of activities that are exempt because they are known to have little or no environmental impact. The inclusion lists used by countries and international organisations differ in content, comprehensiveness, threshold levels and requirements for mandatory application. In certain EIA systems, scale thresholds are specified for each type of listed project for which an EIA is mandatory. Other projects that may require an EIA are screened individually against environmental significance criteria, such as emission levels or proximity to sensitive and protected areas. Internationally, reference is often made to:

  • Annexes I and II of the European EIA Directive, which respectively list projects subject to mandatory EIA and non-mandatory EIA; and
  • Annex E of the World Bank Operational Directive on EA, which is illustrative and provides a framework for screening.

Use of these lists is reported by the World Bank to be a reliable aid to the classification of proposals into one of three categories (see the table below):

  • projects requiring a full EIA because of their likely environmental effects;
  • projects not requiring a full EIA but warranting a further level of assessment ; and
  • projects not requiring further environmental analysis (for example health and nutrition, institutional and human resource development and technical assistance).

Listed projects provide a standardised framework for screening proposals. This approach is simple to apply, at least in its most basic form of identifying the type and size of project for which EIA is mandatory or almost certainly required. However, project lists should be used cautiously and with due regard to their weaknesses, especially if they are the sole basis for screening. The automatic application of EIA to proposals may be avoided by staying just below the predetermined size threshold; for example building a major road in 19 km sections when the threshold for inclusion is 20 km. Secondary project lists or other screening procedures should be in place to ensure such proposals are subject to the appropriate level of EIA.

World Bank and international experience indicates that project lists should be used flexibly in screening proposals. Reference should be made to the location and setting of the proposal, as well as its scale. A low-head hydropower dam or small-scale quarry (<100 ha) normally would not merit full EIA (e.g. by reference to the World Bank Annex E lists). However, the proposal may need to be reclassified if it is located in or near sensitive and valued ecosystems, or heritage resources, displaces people who are particularly vulnerable and difficult to resettle or has evident cumulative impacts (e.g. one of a series of quarries or dams). The methods available for this purpose are discussed below.

As necessary, project lists should be revised and updated over time to incorporate increasing experience and to respond to new demands. The reform of project lists and thresholds preferably should take place through a consultative process, involving government agencies, industry and the public. When developing project lists from scratch, care should be taken not to adopt those established elsewhere without adequate review of their suitability. Project lists are drawn up with reference to the developmental and physical characteristics that are particular to a country or jurisdiction, and it is unlikely they will to be directly transferable without alteration.

Environmental screening – World Bank classification
Category Scope of impacts Projects or components
Source: World Bank (1993)
Category A For projects likely to have significant adverse environmental impacts that are serious (i.e., irreversible, affect vulnerable ethnic minorities, involve involuntary resettlement, or affect cultural heritage sites), diverse, or unprecedented, or that affect an area broader than the sites of facilities subject to physical works. A full EIA is required.
  • dams and reservoirs forestry and production projects;
  • industrial plants (large scale);
  • irrigation, drainage, and flood control (large scale);
  • land clearance and levelling (large scale);
  • mineral development (including oil and gas);
  • port and harbour development;
  • reclamation and new land development;
  • resettlement and new land development;
  • river basin development;
  • thermal and hydropower development;
  • manufacture, transportation, and use of pesticides; and
  • other hazardous and/or toxic materials
Category B For projects likely to have adverse environmental impacts that are less significant that those of Category A projects, meaning that few if any of the impacts are likely to be irreversible, that they are site-specific, and that mitigation measures can be designed more readily than for Category A projects. Normally, a limited EIA will be undertaken to identify suitable mitigation and management measures, and incorporate them into the project.
  • agro-industries;
  • electrical transmission;
  • aquaculture and drainage (small-scale);
  • irrigation and drainage (small-scale);
  • renewable energy;
  • rural electrification;
  • tourism;
  • rural water supply and sanitation;
  • watershed projects (management or rehabilitation); and
  • rehabilitation, maintenance, and upgrading projects (small-scale).
Category C For projects that are likely to have minimal or no adverse environmental impacts. No EIA is required.
  • None

An example of a project list for screening can be found at Project Screening Lists in the EIA Wiki.

July 27, 2006 Uncategorized — @ 12:26 pm


  1. Can you please tell me the difference between screening and scoping? They are pretty similar aint they?.Please advice

    Comment by Victor Dipson — April 29, 2009 @ 7:20 am

  2. Victor, Screening helps you decide whether or not you need an EIA for your project. Once it is clear that you need an EIA, scoping helps determine which environmental issues you need to cover in your EIA.

    Comment by brendan — May 6, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

  3. Even though this list is good it is always better to make it well detailed for instance if you state that Agro- Industry needs EIA ( which type abettors of course but grain mills no I don’t think so) Therefore pls make this list detailed by pointing the particular industries requiring EIA

    Comment by Hiruy Simie — January 31, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

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