Planning and EIA reform

2nd November 2020

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Louise Mapstone

On 6 August the UK government released its Planning for the Future consultation and White Paper, aiming to overhaul the planning system with the most radical planning reforms since the end of the Second World War. Within the consultation, the government also announced that impact assessment, including strategic environmental assessment, sustainability appraisal and environmental impact assessment (EIA), would also be reformed subject to a separate consultation in the autumn of 2020.

Long-time readers of Transform and its predecessor The Environmentalist will know that IEMA has been a fierce advocate of impact assessment reform and improvement during the past two decades, publishing the world's first proportionate EIA strategy in 2017. However, while we recognise that there are many areas of planning that need improvement, we are equally keen to ensure that any reforms represent an improvement to environmental and sustainability outcomes, rather than a regression.

On this basis, IEMA's Impact Assessment Network Steering Group, coordinated by impact assessment policy lead Rufus Howard, submitted an early response to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Defra teams working on the planning and EIA reform, entitled Levelling up EIA to Build Back Better. This was sent in advance of the upcoming EIA reform in order to provide constructive input to the government on the following questions: Why is EIA good? What does good practice deliver? Is EIA really the cause of unnecessary cost and delay? How can we achieve proportional EIA? What are the potential solutions to the themes of the August White Paper? Download your copy at

IEMA has also made a formal response to the consultation and is currently preparing a response to the EIA reform consultation. To find out more or to take part in the consultation, contact [email protected]


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