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June 25, 2015

Step-by-Step Guidance Book for Planning Environmental Inspection

The European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) is an informal network of the environmental authorities of EU member states, acceding and candidate countries, and Norway. The European Commission is also a member of IMPEL and shares the task of chairing its plenary meetings. The network’s objective is to create the necessary impetus in the European Community to make progress on ensuring the more effective application of environmental legislation.

Pursuant to the Recommendation Providing for Minimum Criteria for Environmental Inspections (RMCEI), all inspection activities should be planned in advance. Practitioners have expressed the need for guidance to help in the implementation of the minimum criteria for planning contained in the RMCEI. This guide book was produced for that purpose. The guidance takes as its starting point the environmental inspection cycle, which, for the purposes of this guidance, comprises the following seven steps: 1. Describing the context; 2. Setting priorities; 3. Defining objectives and strategies; 4. Planning and review; 5. Execution framework; 6. Execution and reporting; and 7. Performance monitoring.

The first four steps form the planning cycle. The output of the planning cycle is the inspection plan, which outlines the context in which the inspecting authority performs its inspections. It describes the mission and objectives of the inspecting authority, its statutory tasks and inspection obligations, and the (national) policies to be implemented. An inspection plan also gives an overview of the priorities that have been assigned and explains why and how these priorities were set. The plan also gives general information on inspection targets, strategies and procedures, and on the planned inspection activities themselves. The inspection schedule describes the different types of inspection activities, as well as where, when and by whom those activities will be executed. The inspection plan and the inspection schedule need to be reviewed and, when necessary, periodically revised.

The planning steps are described in detail in the guidance book.