EIA - the key to unlocking sustainable development

12th August 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Adaptation



Environmental impact assessments will be crucial in balancing the demands of economic growth, new energy infrastructure and environmental protection, says Martin Baxter, IEMA's executive director of policy

The UK faces significant pressure for new development to support a greener and more sustainable economy and the challenges are huge. At least £110 billion of investment is needed in new energy infrastructure before 2020 to support the transition to a low-carbon economy; £20 billion over the next five years to maintain and improve water supply; £15 billion between now and 2020 to divert waste from landfill and generate more energy from waste, and spending on flood defences is expected to double from a current level of £0.5 billion a year by 2035 to maintain current risk levels.

Added to the above, the UK population is projected to rise from just over 61 million to almost 72 million by 2033, a 17% increase from 2008, creating significant demand for more homes and supporting transport infrastructure.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) has a huge role to play in ensuring that the environmental impacts of new development are minimised and that key environmental issues are fully integrated into the decision making process.

EIA practitioners operate at the interface between local communities, developers and the environment. As a regulated process, the procedural complexities are potentially demanding, especially combined with the additional risk posed by legal challenges.

At its best, EIA helps to shape the design and siting of development such that social value to communities and broader economic value to investors can both be met, without eroding natural capital and pushing the boundaries of environmental limits – a tool that can truly support moves towards sustainability.

However, the many competing demands can often serve to stifle the process, resulting in reams of information that mask the key environmental issues that need to be considered.

Environmental practitioners have an opportunity to ensure that EIA plays an enhanced role in engaging communities in shaping new development to find the best environmental outcomes.

Reconciling the competing demands between nationally significant infrastructure and local communities won’t be easy, but by sharing experience of best practice, understanding key success factors and reviewing what doesn’t work well – we’ve a better chance of succeeding.

Do you agree? Why not start a discussion in the IEMA LinkedIn Group and have your say?

Read IEMA's new special report into EIA practice in the UK published 15 August 201


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

EU and UK citizens fear net-zero delivery deficit

Support for net zero remains high across the UK and the EU, but the majority of citizens don't believe that major emitters and governments will reach their climate targets in time.

16th May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Taxing the extraction of fossil fuels in the world’s most advanced economies could raise $720bn (£575bn) by 2030 to support vulnerable countries facing climate damages, analysis has found.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close