Frequently Ask Questions about Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

What is the purpose of EIA?

EIA is a simple process of predicting the potential impacts of development activities on the natural and social environment. EIA also suggests measures to prevent or minimize negative impacts and to enhance positive impacts. EIA ensures sustainable investment for developers and a livable environment for the people. In 1981 EIA was made a legal requirement for projects within the coastal zone and since 1993 is mandatory throughout Sri Lanka for prescribed development projects.

How do I know whether my project proposal will be required to go through the EIA process?

You can verify with the Central Environmental Authority, or refer to the Government Gazette No. 772/22 of 24th June 1993 and No. 859/14 of 23rd February 1995. The Central Environmental Authority may provide you with a Basic Information Questionnaire to submit essential information about the project, in order for CEA to determine the above.

If the project is located within the coastal zone then you should contact the Director, Coast Conservation Department. The coastal zone comprises 300 meters land-wards from the high waterline and 2 km seawards from the low waterline. In the case of estuaries and other water bodies 2 km distance from the water area when you draw a line perpendicular to the mouth of the water body.

If the project is located within one mile from the boundary of a National Reserve you should contact the Dept. of Wild Life Conservation. Note that only the prescribed projects are required to go through the EIA process.

What are prescribed projects for EIA?

Only large-scale development projects that are likely to have significant impacts on the environment are listed as prescribed projects. The projects are prescribed according to two categories.

  1. By type and the magnitude. (e.g. Thermal Power Project over 25 MW, Hotels over 99 rooms, highways over 10 km, cement manufacturing plants, reclamation of wetlands over 4 hectares)

  2. By location (e.g. if projects are located wholly of partially within environmentally sensitive areas such as forest and wildlife reserves, stream or lake reservation, archaeological reserve, declared erodible areas etc.

The prescribed projects are listed in the Gazette no 772/22 of 24th June, 1993 and 859/14 of 23rd February 1995.

How do I know whether my poropsed site is located within a sensitive area?

You may get the service of GIS laboratary of Rsearch and Special Project Unit of CEA to verify whether your proposed site is located within a sensitive area.

How do I begin or initiate the EIA process?

First find out whether the project proposal falls within the "prescribed project" list.

Thereafter the Project Proponent (that is you) needs to submit some Preliminary Information about the proposed project to the CEA. The CEA may provide the Project Proponent with a simple form to submit Preliminary Information about the project.

The Project Approving Agency is the government agency responsible for administering the EIA process. The Ceylon Tourist Board, the Ministry of Agriculture, Coast Conservation Department, and Central Environmental Authority (CEA) are examples.

Based on Preliminary Information the CEA will designate "Project Approving Agency" for the project. The Project Approving Agency will prepare Terms of Reference (ToR) for the EIA report by conducting one or more "Scoping" meetings. If the project is very large in extent and magnitude, the Project Approving Agency may ask for more details about the project.

When should I provide the preliminary information?

As soon as the project concept is developed and the location of the project is decided. If the Project Proponent is carrying out pre-feasibility, then that is the right time to do it. You should not wait until the full feasibility stages to submit the preliminary information.

What is the difference between an IEE and an EIA?

If the environmental impacts of the projects are not very significant then the Project Proponent may be asked to do an Initial Environmental Examination, which is a relatively short and simple study. However, if the potential impacts appear to be more significant the Project Proponent may be asked to do an Environmental Impact Assessment, which is a more detailed and comprehensive study of environmental impacts.

How long does the EIA Process take?

The time allowed for the Project Approving Agencies to process the EIA from the day the Project Proponent submitted the Preliminary Information is only 116 working days, provided that the information submitted is sufficient for the Project Approving Agency to review. The time allowed for the Project Approving Agency to process an IEE is less. However, there is no time limit to prepare the IEE/EIA report. Experience shows that the time taken to prepare an EIA report ranges from 3 months to one year, depending on the nature of the project.

Who is responsible for the preparation of the EIA Report?

Consultants hired by the Project Proponent. A list of consultants and consulting firms is available at the Central Environmental Authority. You may also advertise for bids from consulting firms for the EIA study. The Project Proponent is responsible for submitting their EIA report to the Project Approving Agency.

What does the EIA report look like?

It is a relatively short and concise document (may be about 100 pages) written in easy to understand language that describes the following.

  • the details of the proposed project including all components

  • the existing environment of the proposed project site

  • the positive and negative impacts of the project

  • proposed mitigation measures

  • reasonable alternatives

  • monitoring programme

Past EIA reports are available at the CEA library for reference.

To whom should the project proponent submit the EIA report?

To the Project Approving Agency assigned to the project. The Project Proponent needs to submit required numbers of copies of the EIA report. The EIA report needs to be translated into Sinhala and Tamil also.

Who gives the decision in the EIA process (environmental clearances)?

The Project Approving Agency. The Project Approving Agency appoints a Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) which independently evaluates the EIA report and submits their observations. The Project Approving Agency uses the observations in giving their decision.

In addition, the concurrence of the Central Environmental Authority is also required for the Project Approving Agency's decision to be effective.

How long is the approval valid for?

Generally the approval is valid for 3 years. If the Project Proponent does not commence work within 3 years of the decision, renewal of the approval from the Project Approving Agencies is necessary. The validity period is usually stated in the letter of approval

If the project proponent doesn't agree with the decision?

You have a right to appeal to the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment. His/her decision is final.

Do the Project Proponents require other permits even after getting EIA clearance?

You will also have to get approval for the project from the relevant government institution at the local level having jurisdiction over the proposed site. There may be other permit requirements as well. Remember EIA approval gives only the environmental clearance. It is important that the Project Proponent obtains other permits such as land clearance from the relevant authorities before entering the EIA process.

What activities can the Project Proponent carry out before receiving the approval?

Only those that will not lead to any changes at the site. The Project Proponent can explain the project to the people and others having an interest in the project and its outcome. In fact, Project Proponents are encouraged to employ professional public relations consultants for this purpose.

You can also carry out such activities as surveying the land and field testing etc.

From where can the Project proponent get more details on the EIA Process?

The Environmental Management & Assessment Division of the Central Environmental Authority, No. 104, DenzilKobbekaduwaMawatha, Battaramulla.

Tel. : 011-2872419, 011-2876643
Fax : 011-2872296

The following documents available for sale at CEA are useful.

  • Guidance for Implementing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Process No. 1 - A General Guide for Project Approving Agency

  • Guidance for Implementing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Process No. 2 -A General Guide for Conducting Environmental Scoping

The libraries at the Central Environmental Authority and several Universities have good collections of background material on EIA. The CEA library also has copies of past EIA reports for reference.

  1. Environmental Requirements for starting New Project/Industry

  2. Environmental Requirements for operation of an industry/project.

  3. Environmental Requirements for Import/Export of Hazardous Materials.


Frequently Ask Questions about Environmental Recommendation (ER)

Is it possible to extend the validity period of the ER.(If need)?

Yes it is possible.

Written request must be forwarded to the relevant Provincial Office.

What will be the validity period of issued ER?

The ER is valid for one year period from the date of issue and the valid period is indicated in the Environmental Recommendation.

How much to be paid for an Environmental Recommendation Process?

Inspection fee has to be paid for the site inspection. At present Minimum amount is Rs: 3360/- and Maximum amount is Rs: 11200/-(with Government approved tax).

How it could be obtained? Is there a specific procedure?

Procedure to obtain Environmental Recommendation.

From where an Environmental Recommendation could be obtained?

From any Provincial offices of the Central Environmental Authority.

Which industry needs to obtain an Environmental Recommendation?

Normally obtaining an ER to any prescribed activity/industry which is not subject to Environmental Impact Assessment is advisable. This will enable to identify the possible environmental impacts at the beginning and take mitigatory measures accordingly. Also this will help the industrialist to reduce the risk of public complaints in operational stage.

What is an Environmental Recommendation?

It is a conditional document /letter issued by the Central Environmental Authority with regards to the handling of possible environmental issues before establish/locate of a prescribed activity/an industry at a location.

Frequently Ask Questions about Environmental Protection Licence(EPL)

What are the benefits of possessing of an EPL ?

The EPL holder has legal authority for the discharge of effluents, deposit wastes; emit smoke/gases/fumes/vapour, noise/vibration into the environment in accordance with the standards and criteria stipulated by the CEA. This will help the EPL holder to prevent or minimize the discharges and emissions into the environment from the industrial activity.

Possibility of having protests or objections from the neighbourhood will be reduced.

Public confidence on the industry may be gained and the products will be able to attract foreign investors or buyers towards the industry.

The EPL holder is eligible to apply for loans from the banks to carryout further improvements to the industry and process.

The EPL holder will be able proceed towards the ISO certification to provide the means to fulfill international obligations relating to environmental protection

Why is an Environmental Protection Licence may be cancelled/suspended?

  • An EPL may be suspended / cancelled under the following circumstances.

  • Violation of any terms, standards and conditions of a licence

  • Since issue of the licence the receiving environment has been altered or changed due to natural factors or otherwise.

  • Where the continued discharge, deposit or emission of waste into the environment under the authority of the licence will or could affect any beneficial use of the environment adversely.

Whether inspection fee has to be paid when renewing the EPL?

Inspection fee has to be paid only when applying for the first EPL. Therefore it is not necessary pay the inspection fee for the EPL renewal. However if the applicant fails to submit the renewal application on time, he/she has to submit a fresh EPL application again instead of the EPL-Renewal application. In this circumstance he/she has to pay the inspection fee also

How to Renew an EPL?

  • The EPL has to be renewed

  • Before three months prior to the date of expiry of the EPL

  • Before one month effecting any changes, alterations or extensions to the activity.

  • EPL Renewal application forms shall be obtained from the CEA head office,Provincial /District offices. It could be down loaded from the CEA web site

When shall be the Environmental Protection Licence fee paid?

When the decision of issuing EPL is made by the authorized officer applicable conditions to the EPL will be prepared and submitted to the Legal Division for legal approval. Once the approval of the legal division is granted a written request will be made to the applicant for the payment of EPL fee. Once the licence fee paid the Environmental Protection Licence will be issued with the signature of the authorized signatory.

What are the EPL fee and validity period of an EPL ?


Licence issued by

Licence Fee for Each fresh EPL or Renewal(Rs.)

Maximum Validity period of a Licence

No of prescribed Activities



7500 *

01 Year




6000 *

03 Years



Local Authority


03 Years


* In addition to this fee, 12%VAT and10% stamp fee are required to charge

Who will make the decision of issuing EPL?

Decision to issue EPL will be made by the authorized officer of the CEA based on the observations and recommendations of the inspecting officers.

Who will carry out the field inspection?

Relevant officers of CEA will carry out the inspection in order to assess the details furnished by the application and the inspection report may be prepared with their recommendations.

Payments with the EPL application?

  • Based on the details furnished by the industrialist, the relevant PO/DO of the CEA decides the amount of the inspection fee.

  • Minimum amount of the inspection fee is Rs. 3360/= with Government taxes

  • Maximum amount is Rs.11200/= with Government taxes.

What are the documents to be submitted with an EPL application?

  • Certificate for the Registration of Business

  • Legal authorization to use the land for the particular industrial activity. (Copy of deed, copy of the Lease agreement of the land etc.)

  • Copy of Survey Plan of the land.

  • Legal authorization for establishing the particular industry at the site. (Certificate of Conformity/Trade License or Consent paper from relevant LA)

  • Production Certificate necessary for specific products. (Distilleries, medicinal products, pesticide manufacturing etc.)

  • Proposal for pollutant abatement.

How to apply for an EPL?

EPL application forms could be obtained free of charge from the CEA or downloaded from the CEA website . Photocopy of this application form is also accepted.

Duly filled EPL application has to be submitted to the relevant authority 01(one) month (30 days) prior to the commencement of the prescribed industry/activity.

From where an EPL could be obtained?

Industry/activity which is prescribed under parts “A” and “B” according to the Gazette Notification No: 1533/16 of 25.01.2008 has to obtain EPL from the CEA Provincial or District Offices.

Industry/activity which is prescribed under part “C” has to obtain EPL from the respective Local Authority (LA) - Municipal Council/Urban Council/ Pradeshiya Sabha to the location of industry. The powers of the CEA with regard to issue EPL have been delegated to the Local Authorities under Section 26 of the NEA.

Industry /activity which is registered under section 17 of the Act of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI), has to obtain EPL from the BOI situated at World Trade Centre, Colombo 01.

What are the prescribed activities ?

According to the Gazette Notification No: 1533/16 of 25.01.2008, industries are prescribed under three categories such as Part A, B and C. In part A; comparatively 80 high polluting industries, in part B, 33 medium polluting industries and in part C, 25 low polluting industries are prescribed.

Prescribed industries are published in the Gazette Notification No: 1533/16 of 25.01.2008. An EPL is a legal requirement for prescribed industries.

Who has to obtain an Environmental Protection Licence?

Industries/activities that are prescribed in accordance with the regulations of the National Environmental Act (NEA) have to obtain EPL in order to comply with the standards published under the NEA.

What are the aims and objectives of an Environmental Protection Licence?

By controlling the discharge of effluents, deposition of waste, emission of smoke, gases, fumes, noise and vibration streamline the industry/activity to operate in an environmental friendly manner and there by maintaining sustainability.

What is an Environmental Protection Licence ?

The Environmental Protection Licence is a regulatory/legal tool under the provisions of the National Environmental Act No 47 0f 1980 (NEA).

Section 23A of NEA states that no person shall carry out any prescribed activity except under the authority of an Environmental Protection Licence. That means it is a legal authorization under certain conditions, for industries/ activities to discharge effluents, deposit wastes, emit smoke/gases/fumes/vapor or excessive noise /vibration into environment

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 May 2024 06:44




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