A round-up of the latest EIA research, including a review of the past 15 years, lifecycle assessment and shale gas projects.
EIA in the UK since 1999
A review of EIA in the UK over the past 15 years by academics at the Environmental Assessment and Management Research Centre, at Liverpool University’s School of Environmental Sciences has found the internal strengths and weaknesses of the system have remained largely unchanged. Urmila Jha-Thakur and Thomas Fischer followed the approach used by a study in 1999 looking at the first ten years of EIA in the UK. They complemented this with a SWOT analysis, which involved: data from a 2011 survey of EIA in the UK; a workshop on the EU EIA Directive; and a literature review of publications since 1999. Their paper is published in Environmental Impact Assessment Review.
New approach to LCA
The requirement for expert knowledge in environmental science and the resources needed to collect data often make it difficult to carry out lifecycle assessment (LCA) to quantify a product’s environmental impact. To overcome this, a researcher at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has developed an evidential reasoning-based approach to help non-LCA experts perform design alternative evaluations. In a paper in Environmental Impact Assessment Review, CY Ng says the proposed approach would enable decision makers to quantitatively assess the lifecycle phases and design alternatives by comparing potential environmental impacts.
Assessing shale gas projects
A paper in Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal argues that effectively managing the social and environmental risks of unconventional shale gas development requires a new generation of impact assessment. It says assessment should unite the ideals of strategic environmental assessment and cumulative effects assessment with deliberative and inclusive processes of community engagement towards collective risk management.