IEMA responds to government EOR consultation

1st August 2023


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IEMA

IEMA responded in June to the government’s consultation on the future of impact assessment regimes in England and Northern Ireland via its consultation on environmental outcomes reports (EORs).

The aim of the EORs seems to be to replace the environmental assessment (EA) processes of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA).

In consultation with its membership, IEMA developed two key tests: do the proposals seize the opportunity to improve EA, and will they introduce new weaknesses within EA and so lessen environmental protection?

Examining the consultation against these two tests identified a wide range of concerns and perceived weaknesses in the proposals. IEMA’s conclusion was that it would be far better to modify and improve the existing regime of EIA and SEA than to start again with a new regime.

IEMA’s concerns are listed in more detail in the consultation response. Taking all the concerns together, the overall message was clear from our members and other key stakeholders: there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the EA regime to increase environmental protection and outcomes for people and nature. However, the current proposals lack evidence-based research and stakeholder engagement.

On this basis, IEMA has called on the government to consider multiple recommendations, including the need to:

  • Invest in training, skills and capacity to ensure there are enough competent experts in local authorities, regulators and statutory consultees engaged with the EA regime.
  • Invest in knowledge management to develop and publish evidence-based research, policy and guidance on good practice in EA.
  • Invest in better long-term and coordinated project- and plan-level monitoring to develop evidence on the effectiveness of assessment predictions, mitigation efficiency and environmental outcomes. Ensure that these lessons are then disseminated and acted upon by feeding back into screening and scoping decisions, to continually improve assessment techniques.
  • Maintain the continued use of competent experts to carry out EA, as required by the existing EIA regulations.
  • Expand and improve provisions that provide access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.
  • Adequately fund and increase the use of planning conditions, compliance monitoring, enforcement and remedy of non-compliance.

IEMA is committed to aiding policymakers in developing evidence-based policy using experience from experts.

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