IEMA publishes new land and soils guidance

17th February 2022


IEMA has today published new guidance for environmental impact assessment (EIA) practitioners to better assess and manage the effects of development on land and soils, and ensure sustainable outcomes.

A New Perspective on Land and Soil in Environmental Impact Assessment highlights a lack of soil specialists advising on major development projects worldwide.

It recommends a new approach to assessing soil functions, ecosystem services and natural capital provided by land and soils, instead of simply quantifying and financially compensating impacts on agricultural land.

The guidance also highlights and reinforces the importance of soil functions and ecosystems services to wider systems, including carbon and climate, hydrology, food production, biodiversity and ecology.

This will help professionals understand and record the full environmental implications of development on land and soil, embedding sustainable soil management throughout EIA.

“For too long, soil and land considerations have been dealt with inadequately in major infrastructure projects because of a lack of knowledge,” said IEMA CEO, Sarah Mukherjee MBE.

“I am pleased that our experts can help to rectify this and enhance soil health, which is a crucial part of our biodiversity and highlights the need for green skills training in this area.”

The protection of soils is rising up the political agenda after the House of Lords announced last year that a Soil Health Action Plan (SHAPE) for England will be published to restore the health of soils. A consultation on a draft outline is expected in due course.

Lord Goldsmith confirmed that this will be a crucial part of the government’s plan to halt the decline of species by 2030 and meet long-term targets on biodiversity.

IEMA's new guidance has been developed by its Impact Assessment Working Group on Land and Soils, together with key EIA and soil professionals from a wide range of organisations representing practitioners, regulators, academics and stakeholders from across the UK.

The aims are ambitious, but also necessary and timely, according to Impact Assessment Policy Lead, Dr Rufus Howard, (PEIA, CEnv, FIEMA). “The importance of protecting land and soils cannot be overestimated,” he said.

“The vital contribution of soil functions, ecosystem services and natural capital provided by land and soils underpins the healthy functioning of our terrestrial ecosystems on which we all depend.

“I am delighted that IEMA has published the first EIA guidance on this topic to help strengthen the consideration of land and soils in the planning and consenting of development projects."

Image credit: iStock


Transform articles

EU proposes Nature Restoration Law

The European Commission has proposed a new Nature Restoration Law with legally-binding targets to restore damaged ecosystems across every member state.

23rd June 2022

Read more

The Broadway Initiative has co-published a new report outlining how the UK can overcome barriers to private investment needed to fill an annual £5.6bn financing gap for nature recovery.

9th June 2022

Read more

In R. (on the application of Lewis) v Welsh Ministers, following a costs order against the claimant, the claimant applied for a costs limit in accordance with the Aarhus Convention 2001 and the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) 1998/3132.

26th May 2022

Read more

Tom Pashby talks about why the new Natural History GCSE is such an important step forward for climate and biodiversity preservation

26th May 2022

Read more

In March, Defra launched the consultation on its Nature Recovery Green Paper, which set out pro-posals to deliver the 30/30 targets (30% of land and sea to be protected by 2030), protect species and deliver nature recovery.

26th May 2022

Read more

Defra kickstarted 2022 with its January consultation on biodiversity net gain (BNG) regulations and im-plementation.

26th May 2022

Read more

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has today published its first monitoring report on the UK government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, warning that progress so far has been “slow”.

12th May 2022

Read more

The UK government has today unveiled a new strategy detailing how the country's education sector will become a “world leader in climate change” by 2030.

21st April 2022

Read more

Defra’s consultation on biodiversity net gain (BNG) regulations and implementation looks at how to enact BNG within the planning system, as set out in last year’s Environment Act.

24th March 2022

Read more

Media enquires

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

Find an expert