IEMA sets six tests for environmental impact assessment reform

7th October 2020

Web enviromental world istock 507688668

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Planning ,
  • Environmental Impact Assessment ,
  • Guidance ,
  • Sustainability


Rachel Mitford

IEMA has published six tests that must be met to ensure that reforms to environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations deliver a system that is both proportionate and effective.

“Too often EIAs are unfairly blamed for a variety of failings that do not stem from the EIA process, ranging from proposals being out of line with policy or local requirements, poor decision making or political interference,“ said Rufus Howard, IEMA's policy lead for impact assessment.

“Reform of the EIA process should, therefore, focus on where improvements can be made – overblown reports running to thousands of pages hinder understanding, and a move to proportionate EIA is long overdue.“

IEMA's six tests include:

1. Governance on scoping non-EIA development: Reforms should set standards for the 99.9% of developments that currently fall outside the provision of EIAs, including defining a consistent mechanism for ensuring that the requirements and mitigation of projects are implemented.

2. Publish clear requirements and standards for EIAs: Reforms should redefine EIA as a design tool for plan making and design coding, a delivery mechanism for net gain, and a means of delivering effective scoping.

3. Ensure Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) are central to the EIA process and provides certainty on implementation: EMPs should be the one stop shop that brings together all design and mitigation requirements and ensure quality. The EMP then focuses on post-construction monitoring, thus ensuring better implementation.

4. Appraise the role of a national EIA Unit: Reforms should consider the benefits of a National EIA unit in order to build certainty and confidence by reducing the need to reinvent the wheel, reduce timescales and reduce the risk of legal challenges.

5. Embrace innovation and digital EIA: Reforms should move EIA to digital submissions with improved use of interactive mapping to clarify impacts. A national data hub should be considered to increase accessibility and share industry intelligence.

6. Competence in EIA: Reforms should acknowledge EIA as a specialist area of expertise, ensuring that leading practitioners bring their experience in preparing EIAs, and using them correctly in the decision-making process. Training needs to be improved.

The tests come in in response to the ongoing government consultation on 'Planning for the Future', and in advance of an anticipated autumn consultation on EIA reforms.

“At its best, EIA is critically important for making decisions based on sound scientific and legal advice, ensuring that the environmental and social impacts for a proposed development are fully understood,“ Howard continued.

“EIA is a practical means of achieving sustainable development and good design. It can build confidence that risks can be managed, and stated benefits and quality assurances can be delivered.

“IEMA's key tests, if met, will provide the foundations for improvement without risking the benefits that come from a process that is practiced successfully in over 100 countries around the world.“

Image credit: iStock


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

Transform articles

Advice note on health impact assessments

An advice note on health impact assessments and health in environmental assessments is set to be published by IEMA soon.

31st May 2024

Read more

IEMA’s Impact Assessment Network is delighted to have published A Roadmap to Digital Environmental Assessment.

2nd April 2024

Read more

Lisa Pool on how IEMA is shaping a sustainable future with impact assessment

27th November 2023

Read more

IEMA responded in September to the UK government’s consultation on the details of the operational reforms it is looking to make to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) consenting process as put forward in the NSIP reform action plan (February 2023).

24th November 2023

Read more

Members of IEMA’s Impact Assessment Network Steering Group have published the 17th edition of the Impact Assessment Outlook Journal, which provides a series of thought pieces on the policy and practice of habitats regulations assessment (HRA).

26th September 2023

Read more

In July, we published the long-awaited update and replacement of one of IEMA’s first published impact assessment guidance documents from 1993, Guidelines for the Environmental Assessment of Road Traffic.

1st August 2023

Read more

Are we losing sight of its intended purpose and what does the future hold for EIA? Jo Beech, Tiziana Bartolini and Jessamy Funnell report.

15th June 2023

Read more

Luke Barrows and Alfie Byron-Grange look at the barriers to adoption of digital environmental impacts assessments

1st June 2023

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