Uncertain future for EIA

20th July 2022

In May 2022, the UK government published the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, building on the white paper Levelling Up the United Kingdom. Its scope is broad, but the proposals to reform environmental impact assessment (EIA) and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) will be of interest to IEMA members.

IEMA has been following these developments since the ‘Planning For the Future’ proposals made in 2020 by the now defunct Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. In 2021, IEMA submitted evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee (HCLGC) inquiry ‘The future of the planning system in England’; the government published its response on 12 May 2022, stating that through the Levelling-up Bill it will introduce a new framework of environmental assessment to replace the EU’s EIA and SEA systems.

While the government is keen to stress that there will be no regression in protection, several organisations and individuals have doubts about the government’s credentials concerning environmental protection. Its response to the HCLGC inquiry states its intention to move to “an outcome-based approach to assessment”, as set out in its approach to the Environmental Outcomes Reports proposed in the Levelling-up Bill. However, no details have yet been provided on what the outcomes will be, how they will be determined or what they will cover. Therefore, it is not clear whether its environmental priorities will match those of environmental protection professionals and organisations.

Read more about the Levelling-up Bill on page 21. To follow our impact assessment and planning policy work, see IEMA’s website or contact our impact assessment lead at [email protected]


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