The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) has long been an advocate of good practice in EIA, working with developers, statutory bodies and consultants to ensure that the effects of development are assessed, mitigated and inform decision makers.

We are staunch supporter of EIA and the benefits it provides to society, and do not believe that the EIA process is a genuine barrier to achieving the Government’s development ambitions. There is a large body of evidence that points to much more significant issues with the planning system, such as the delay between a consent being granted and a housing development being built. However, we are also aware of opportunities for improvements to EIA.

In 2017 IEMA released a Proportionate EIA Strategy as a collaborative approach for enhancing UK environmental impact assessment practice.

The strategy set out four key recommendations for improving practice:

  • Enhancing People - so that those involved in EIA have the skills, knowledge and confidence to avoid an overly precautionary approach
  • Sharing Responsibility -recognising that disproportionate EIA is driven by many factors and that enabling proportionate assessment will require collaborative actions that work towards a shared goal.
  • Improving Scoping - to generate a more consistently focussed approach to this critical activity throughout the EIA process.
  • Embracing Innovation & Digital - modernising EIA to deliver effective and efficient assessment and reporting that adds value to projects and their interaction with the environment.

IEMA’s most recent report on the use of Digital Impact Assessment builds on the proportionate EIA strategy and provides a primer for embracing innovation and digital working. Furthermore, a dedicated microsite gives examples of innovation in practice and shows how the use of technology can help deliver better EIA practice.

In our report on the State of EIA in 2011 we interviewed stakeholders from across the spectrum of private and public practice to look at ways of improving EIA. Our immediate response to our findings was the development and launch in 2011 of the EIA Quality Mark establishing a new standard for organisations that coordinate environmental impact assessments, alongside an EIA Register for EIA Practitioners to improve recognition and professional standards at the individual level.

Alongside the EIA Quality Mark, IEMA also maintains an Impact Assessment Network, with a Steering Group consisting of 15 leading EIA practitioners and experts from both public and private sectors. The IA Network develops and publishes articles, blogs, webinars and guidance on EIA for the benefit of EIA practice. Key outputs from the network included an EIA Guide to Shaping Quality Development (2015) and EIA Guide to Delivering Quality Development (2016). We will continue to advocate for high standards in EIA as a means for local communities and decision-makers to understand the potential environmental effects of new developments. We will share our thoughts with government on how improvements to the current process can best be achieved.

Authors

Martin Baxter - IEMA Chief Policy Advisor

Martin Baxter leads on IEMA's policy and external engagement activity. He works in the UK, and internationally, to support the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient, and sustainable economy.

Martin is a regular media spokesperson on a range of business sustainability topic areas. He has extensive experience of networking and communicating at all levels, including with senior parliamentarians, Government officials, business leaders, and academia.

Martin has national and international experience in developing and negotiating global and European standards and developing capacity for effective and widespread implementation. He is chair of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) sub-committee on environmental management systems and head of the UK delegation. Martin represents the UK on the European Commission Eco-Management and Audit Scheme regulatory committee.

Martin is a board member of IEMA and also the Society for the Environment (SocEnv), where he chairs the SocEnv Registration Authority. He is a Fellow of IEMA and the RSA, and a Chartered Environmentalist.


Dr Rufus Howard - IEMA Impact Assessment Lead

Dr Howard is the Policy and Engagement Lead for Impact Assessment at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). Rufus is a leading professional for environmental impact assessment (EIA) and sustainable development, with two decades of professional experience across energy, flood defence, aviation and infrastructure.

A Fellow of IEMA (FIEMA) and Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv), Rufus holds a BSc in Biodiversity Conservation, an LLM in Environmental Law, and a PhD in Management. A trusted advisor, Rufus has completed projects for public, private and NGO clients including; the World Bank, The Crown Estate, EBRD, Statkraft, Orsted, National Grid, the International Finance Corporation, UK Export Credit Dept. and the Environment Agency.