The state of EIA practice in the UK
25 years of EIA - special report from IEMA will be launched in June
Over the past two years IEMA has been researching the current state of environmental impact assessment (EIA) across the UK through discussions with practitioners, planners and developers.
The study involved numerous events, attended by more than 800 members, and an EIA survey in August 2010, which attracted more than 1,800 responses. In a few weeks’ time the findings of this study will be available in the form of IEMA’s latest special report, The state of EIA practice in the UK, which members will be able to download for free from www.iema.net.
The report – divided into three sections – will launch in June, with the first section setting out the basis for EIA in the UK and looking at major developments that occurred over the past 25 years. This section also acts as an introduction to EIA for those members, and wider readers, who are less familiar with this assessment tool.
The second section addresses current trends in EIA practice, from screening, through scoping, engagement, design, significance and mitigation to the length of Environmental Statements and real-world outcomes.
The final section scans the future by looking at the European Commission’s review of the EIA Directive (85/337/EC). Research by the commission has identified a number of concerns with the Directive, for example, repeated examples of member states exceeding the limits of discretion when establishing EIA thresholds.
The final section also focuses on developments in UK regulations and potential issues related to developing case law – such as the 2000 Court of Appeal decision (R v Durham County Council) that an individual affected by a planning decision could challenge it on EIA grounds where UK law was defective.
The report concludes by establishing a vision for EIA practice in the UK which indicates that EIA must influence future development to ensure it delivers for all parties, including the developer, community and environment.
The report not only looks at the drivers behind key issues in EIA practice (eg broad scoping) and the consequences that result (ie longer environmental statements), but also explores potential solutions, generated through discussion with practitioners. As such, the report provides both a reflection of the views held by UK EIA practitioners and a clear vision for its future development.
After the report’s launch, IEMA will present its contents and its vision for EIA during a series of environmental impact assessment workshops that will be held across the UK, making this the third year in a row that the Institute has run a summer series of environmental impact assessment workshops.
The workshops will also include presentations from practice by EIA Quality Mark registrants as well as providing an opportunity to reflect on 10 years of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.
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).