EIA update with IEMA's Josh Fothergill

6th March 2015

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Central government ,
  • Energy ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Natural resources



A round-up of the latest key developments in EIA.

Call for mandatory fracking EIAs fails

The government has rejected an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill requiring mandatory environmental impact assessments before hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas or oil can start. The bill, passed on 11 February, includes a requirement that planning authorities take account of the environmental impact of a development, but does not insist on a compulsory EIA.

The government had earlier accepted several amendments to the bill put forward by the Labour Party, including that any hydraulic fracturing cannot take place unless an EIA has been carried out. The House of Lords rejected this addition before sending the bill back to the House of Commons for consideration.

In the Lords, Baroness Verma argued that the amendment was not legally viable and “simply would not work in practice”. She said a secretary of state would only grant consent if they were satisfied that conditions had been met, including that the environmental impact of the development had been taken into account by the planning authority. Energy minister Amber Rudd reiterated this point in the House of Commons. The government clause states that permission will not be granted for any shale gas operations unless the local planning authority states that “environmental information was taken into account” in deciding the application.

Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said that the government’s proposed clause stopped short of a full commitment to an EIA. He argued that individual notification would be impractical.

EIA practice update with IEMA’s Josh Fothergill

IEMA’s impact assessment network officially kicked off with its first steering group meeting on 20 February. The network’s aim is to further improve current good work around EIA, increase coverage of wider impact assessment areas and to empower members to identify priorities for action. The steering group will act as the catalyst to help drive the direction of impact assessment related activity (iema.net/policy-impact-assessment).

EIA practitioners with 10 or more years experience will remember the excitement generated by the introduction of strategic environmental assessment, but it has failed to deliver regularly on its potential. However, 2015 could see the beginning of a renewal. The European commission will begin a second review of the Directive, with policymakers indicating a desire to refresh the legislation and improve delivery. Meanwhile, Oxford Brookes University is hosting a conference on SEA (1–2 June), which will bring practitioners together to share views (planning.brookes.ac.uk). SEA is also the topic of one of this year’s annual Scottish government forums. Its latest newsletter (gov.scot/Resource/0046/00469784.pdf) provides details and includes a note on ecosystem services in SEA.

From May the monthly Quality Mark webinar will be rebranded impact assessment webinars. This will mean that every other webinar will cover a subject beyond UK EIA. Forthcoming webinars:

  • 26 March: GLVIA3 – two years on.
  • 30 April: IEMA’s noise guidelines – six months on.

Ecosystems and EIA

Ecosystem services (ES) are not being effectively incorporated into assessments, finds research published in Environmental Impact Assessment Review. The researchers reviewed five environmental and social impact assessments (ESIA) reports for mining, hydroelectric and transport infrastructure projects in Africa, Asia and South America. In all cases, ecosystem services were included in the assessments to meet a requirement of the International Finance Corporation’s performance standards on environmental and social sustainability. However, in only three cases were most of the tasks recommended by current guidance adopted and, although all the reports included a dedicated chapter or section on ES, there was no evidence in three that the ecosystem services analysis was integrated in impact assessment. By contrast, in the two ESIAs that followed the guidance, ES analysis resulted in specific mitigation measures.

Bats and wind farms

A study in Environmental Impact Assessment Review examines the mitigation hierarchy to reduce impacts from new wind farms on bat populations. It presents new guidelines on compensation when negative impacts remain after avoidance and minimisation measures have been taken. Although the conservation strategies outlined are developed for Europe, the authors say they are applicable elsewhere if the specifics of each region in terms of local bat populations, landscape features and policy on nature and biodiversity conservation and management are considered. An analysis of potential opportunities and constraints from implementing offset or compensation programmes, and gaps in the current knowledge, are also considered.


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

Transform articles

Swing voters show strong support for renewables

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

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker has found broad support for efforts to tackle climate change, although there are significant concerns that bills will rise.

13th March 2024

Read more

A consortium including IEMA and the Good Homes Alliance have drafted a letter to UK government ministers expressing disappointment with the proposed Future Homes Standard.

26th February 2024

Read more

Global corporations such as Amazon and Google purchased a record 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy last year, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF).

13th February 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