Investigation and assessment of the environmental impact of any project or programme brings the environmental aspect to planning and decision making. The goal is to prevent or mitigate a detrimental impact of a project or programme on the environment.
The impact of a major project is investigated in an environmental impact assessment in compliance with the Act on Environmental Impact Assessment. The impact of land use is investigated according to the Act on Land use and Construction. The impact of a plan or a programme is investigated according to the new act on the environmental impact assessment of public plans and programmes.
Assessments in compliance with these laws include a hearing and participation process, and all these laws apply the same broad principle of environmental impact which incorporates:
- Impact on human health, living conditions and quality of life
- Impact on soil, water, air, climate, flora, fauna and biodiversity
- Impact on social structure, constructed environment, landscape, cityscape and cultural heritage
- Impact on the utilization of natural resources
- Mutual impact of factors listed in items 1–4