Introducing the EIA Quality Mark
On 18 April 2011 IEMA launched the EIA Quality Mark, establishing a new standard for organisations that coordinate environmental impact assessments.
The scheme allows consultancies and developers that regularly carry out environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to make a voluntary commitment to undertaking quality practice. IEMA is responsible for the operation of the scheme and monitoring each registrant’s ongoing compliance to its commitments.
The new EIA Quality Mark places an emphasis on sharing, learning and improving the practice of environmental impact assessments. The EIA Quality Mark looks at quality across an organisation’s EIA activities, including its management processes and approaches to the development of staff competence.
IEMA is pleased to welcome 38 of the founding organisations to the EIA Quality Mark, which include organisations that completed the transition from the Institute’s previous corporate EIA register and those which piloted the new application process.
The Institute actively engaged environmental impact assessment practitioners in developing the new scheme, ensuring that the EIA Quality Mark is rigorous, efficient and capable of driving real quality improvements across practice.
Some of the registrants have told IEMA about how valuable this new scheme will prove to be:
- Doug Ford, UK business group director of environment at consultants Royal Haskoning, describes the EIA Quality Mark as having “teeth”, which will “help the industry achieve well overdue higher and consistent quality in this vital part of permitting, while further supporting our EIA practitioners”.
- Christine House, director of environmental planning at engineering consultancy Wardell Armstrong, believes the EIA Quality Mark is a “wonderful opportunity to further develop staff skills using IEMA’s structured EIA assessment criteria.” Her colleague, technical director Jon King, who helped pilot the scheme, is equally enthusiastic: “The EIA Quality Mark will be of great benefit in the benchmarking of EIAs and in raising the standards of environmental statements.”
The Environment Agency is the first developer to be awarded the EIA Quality Mark thanks to the standard of EIA practice shown by its National Environmental Assessment Service (NEAS).
Ross Marshall, NEAS’s director, explained why they chose to become the first developer to join the scheme: “NEAS joined the EIA Quality Mark scheme to demonstrate the value as an asset operator that environmental impact assessments bring to our own infrastructure programmes and emphasise the need for continuous performance improvement. We are proud to be the first recipient of the EIA Quality Mark.”
The EIA Quality Mark has been specifically designed to ensure it generates multiple benefits for registrants, IEMA members and all those interested in improving UK EIA practice. All of IEMA’s members will benefit from the new scheme through access to:
- A growing library of more than 375 non-technical summaries from environmental statements, including approximately one-third of all those submitted across the UK in 2010 – these are available now.
- Access to a growing catalogue of case studies of effective EIA practice – available from June.
- An increasing number of EIA events, including a trial of EIA webinars – starting from July.
The EIA Quality Mark is open to all organisations that regularly coordinate statutory environmental impact assessments in the UK. If you are interested in finding out how your organisation can join the scheme, visit www.iema.net/qmark for information on how to apply.
The EIA Quality Mark’s commitment to excellence
- EIA management – using effective project control and management processes to deliver quality in the EIA coordinated and environmental statements produced.
- EIA team capabilities – ensuring that all EIA staff have the opportunity to undertake regular and relevant continuing professional development.
- EIA regulatory compliance – delivering environmental statements that meet the requirements established within the appropriate UK EIA regulations.
- EIA context and influence – ensuring that all EIAs are effectively scoped and that they transparently indicate how the process, and any consultation undertaken, influenced the development proposed and any alternatives considered.
- EIA content – undertaking assessments that include a robust analysis of the relevant baseline, assessment and transparent evaluation of impacts and an effective description of measures designed to monitor and manage significant effects.
- EIA presentation – delivering environmental statements that set out environmental information in a transparent and understandable manner.
- Improving EIA practice – enhancing the profile of good-quality EIA by working with IEMA to deliver a mutually agreed set of activities, on an annual basis and by making appropriate examples of our work available to the wider EIA community.
The Environment Bill returned to Parliament following the Queen’s speech and is making progress through the House of Lords.
In June 2021, the UK’s governing Conservative Party lost a by-election in Chesham and Amersham, a seat it had held for 47 years. The principal reasons reported as the cause of this defeat were proposed planning reforms and the promotion of housebuilding on greenfield sites across the south of England.
As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the EIA Quality Mark, IEMA can announce that, during the past 12 months, the scheme has undergone a thorough review of practice, including stakeholder consultation with registrants and assessors, in order to improve it.
The delivery of effective outcomes for the environment, communities and development is a team effort, and more so when it comes to consenting projects that undergo Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).