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The UK government published a paper on its proposed English planning reforms, Planning for the Future, on 6 August 2020, setting out its vision for the most radical reforms to England’s planning system since the Second World War.

The stated aims included streamlining and modernising the planning process, improving design and sustainability outcomes, reforming developer contributions, and ensuring more land is available for development where needed. The consultation paper also included an outline of plans for reforming environmental impact assessment (EIA) and strategic environmental assessment (SEA).

IEMA, working with its Impact Assessment Network Steering Group and members, responded to the outline EIA proposals with a paper in September called Levelling Up EIA to Build Back Better, setting out key principles that any future reforms of EIA should take into account. IEMA followed up with a formal response to the Planning for the Future consultation and again provided focused recommendations, in particular on SEA and EIA. As a result of these submissions, IEMA was subsequently engaged by the UK government to provide further advice on the planning and impact assessment reforms.

While there is still a long way to go to ensure impact assessment reform is delivered in an effective way, IEMA is encouraged by the government’s ongoing engagement. In this respect, IEMA will continue to offer advice to the government on its core disciplines of environmental management and assessment, in order to help shape the development of proposals that maximise the contribution of planning and impact assessment as we transform the world to sustainability.

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