Talking about environmental impact assessment
- Business & Industry ,
- Built environment ,
- Planning ,
Building new partnerships is more important than ever.
Last month I hosted a symposium on environmental impact assessment (EIA) at the University of Kent. More than 50 academics and practitioners attended.
Three main topics were debated:
- EIA as a design tool – many assessments are applied too late in the project cycle and to effect change they need to be embedded at the design stage. How can this be achieved?
- Defining competent experts – the 2014 amendment to the EIA Directive requires assessments to be conducted by ‘competent experts’. Who are they and how do we recognise them and verify their competence?
- Offsetting – is biodiversity offsetting relevant to a project? Does it work? Offsetting in conjunction with climate change policy.
Each topic was introduced by an experienced professional before it was opened for debate. At the end of the day, I was struck that there is much more work needed on integrating EIA and strategic environmental assessment with the emerging discourses on natural capital, environmental economics, ecosystem services, habitat banking, landscape scale conservation, green and blue corridors, and rewilding.
The purpose of the event was to build partnerships and share knowledge between impact assessment academics and practitioners from industry. The discussions revealed that there is much to be gained from closer interaction and collaboration with the academic community. It also highlighted significant career opportunities in impact assessment for people considering leaving academia.
In the context of Brexit and the shadow of potentially leaving the European EIA community, collaboration is essential between academics and practitioners in industry, government and non-governmental organisations. This wider multidisciplinary group from across all sectors needs to act as a united community to ensure that the vital environmental safeguards that we have worked hard to secure over many decades are not removed or reduced by the UK government in the post-Brexit era.
The Environment Agency has successfully prosecuted Southern Water for thousands of illegal raw sewage discharges that polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, resulting in a record £90m fine.
In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
Global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are projected to increase by 4% over the next 10 years, despite the carbon intensity of production declining. That is according to a new report from the UN food agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which forecasts that 80% of the increase will come from livestock.
Half of consumers worldwide now consider the sustainability of food and drink itself, not just its packaging, when buying, a survey of 14,000 shoppers across 18 countries has discovered. This suggests that their understanding of sustainability is evolving to include wellbeing and nutrition, with sustainable packaging now considered standard.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
New jobs that help drive the UK towards net-zero emissions are set to offer salaries that are almost one-third higher than those in carbon-intensive industries, research suggests.