Permitting is a regulatory tool for the implementation of legal obligations and policy, and also provides the basis for enforcement action. MEPA has two main permitting functions: the permitting of operations from an environmental perspective, and the permitting of developments - as defined by the Environmental Protection Act and the Development Planning Act respectively.
Development permits provide a set of conditions against which a proposed development is allowed; the acceptability of such a development may be assisted by the Environmental Impact Assessment process, the function of which is to inform the decision making process. The findings of the EIA process and the maintenance of environmental standards re regulated through the environmental permitting process. The latter involves the issue of operational permits to installations, to ensure that these conform to the environmental standards as currently defined in the environmental regulation for which MEPA is the competent authority.