Screening Criteria

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Screening criteria is used for the determination of the need for, and level of, environmental impact assessment. The following is adapted from criteria developed by the Australian and New Zealand Environmental and Conservation Council (ANZECC), 1996a.


Character of the receiving environment


  • Is it, or is it likely to be, part of the conservation estate or subject to treaty?
  • Is it an existing or potential environmentally significant area?
  • Is it vulnerable to major natural or induced hazards?
  • Is it a special purpose area?
  • Is it an area where human communities are vulnerable?
  • Does it involve a renewable or a non-renewable resource?
  • Is it a degraded area, subject to significant risk levels, or a potentially contaminated site?

NOTE: Off-site (out of area) as well as on-site (local) characteristics should be considered, where relevant.

Potential impact of proposal


  • Will implementation or construction, operation and/or decommissioning of the proposal have the potential to cause significant changes to the receiving environment (on-site or off-site, transboundary, short term or long term)?
  • Could implementation of the proposal give rise to health impacts or unsafe conditions?
  • Will the proposal significantly divert resources to the detriment of other natural and human communities?

NOTE: This should include consideration of the magnitude of the impacts, their spatial extent, the duration and the intensity of change, the total life cycle and whether and how the impacts are manageable.

Resilience of natural and human environments to cope with change


  • Can the receiving environment absorb the level of impact predicted without suffering irreversible change?
  • What are the implications of the proposal for bio-diversity?
  • Can land uses at and around the site be sustained?
  • Can sustainable uses of the site be achieved beyond the life of the proposal?
  • Are contingency or emergency plans proposed or in place to deal with accidental events?

NOTE: Cumulative as well as individual impacts should be considered in the context of sustainability.

Confidence of prediction of impacts


  • What level of knowledge do we have on the resilience of a given significant ecosystem?
  • Is the proposal sufficiently detailed and understood to enable the impacts to be established?
  • Is the level and nature of change to the natural human environment sufficiently understood to allow the impact of the proposal to be predicted and managed?
  • Is it practicable to monitor the predicted effects?
  • Are present community values on land use and resource use known or likely to change?

Presence of planning, policy framework and other decision-making processes


  • Is the proposal consistent with existing policy frameworks?
  • Do other approval processes exist to adequately assess and manage proposal impacts?
  • What legislation, standard codes or guidelines are available to properly monitor and control operations and the types or quantity of the impacts?

Degree of public interest


  • Is the proposal controversial or could it lead to controversy or concern in the community?
  • Will the amenity, values or lifestyle of the community be adversely affected?
  • Will large numbers of people require relocation?
  • Will the proposal result in inequities between sectors of the community?


Australian and New Zealand Environmental and Conservation Council (ANZECC) (1996) Guidelines and Criteria for Determining the Need for and Level of Environmental Impact Assessment in Australia. Working Group on National Environmental Impact Assessment, ANZECC, Canberra.