Guest Editors for the Journal, Ellie Askham (Environment Agency) and Josh Fothergill (Fothergill Training and Consulting) discuss the launch of Volume 12 of the IEMA IA Outlook Journal on Strategic Impact Assessment.


The journal includes articles from:

  • Ainhoa González (University College Dublin)
  • Cara Davidson (Scottish Government)
  • David Hourd (Temple)
  • Karl Fuller (Environment Agency)
  • Sarah Tooby (Arcadis)
  • Steve Isaac (Jacobs)
  • Thomas B Fischer (University of Liverpool)
  • Vicky Schlottmann (Natural Resources Wales)

From the great papers set out in this edition of IA Outlook Journal it is clear that Strategic Impact Assessment remains a vital tool for improving and advancing plan-making, and that there are many great practitioners working across the UK, Ireland and beyond. It is, however, also clear that plans and the ambitions behind them are changing, often driven by the scale of the sustainability challenges society now faces. As part of this trend, we are seeing more plans that seek to set out a core direction, but retain an adaptive approach to enable them to pivot, if required, by future challenges, or even opportunities that could arise from new technology development for example.

Alongside this there has been a significant growth in the range of Strategic IA tools and approaches since the SEA Directive was adopted at the turn of the millennium. This plethora of tools drives a need for practitioners to become efficient and effective at undertaking integrated assessments, which are appropriately scoped to focus on the key issues and risks related to the plan or programme. It is unfortunate that there is not more interest in the exploration and application of Strategic IA in relation to policy-making, especially outside of Scotland, but this can hopefully act as an inspiration for practice to work harder to show the positive results that can arise from its application to broaden application in the near future. The advancement of technology and greater innovation in the way practitioners contextualise plan-making, such as the application of systems thinking, is also encouraging, but must also be right for the context of the plan-making process and be effective at engaging its stakeholders. We hope this edition of the IEMA IA Outlook Journal will inspire IEMA members and beyond, and also acts as a call to arms to all Strategic IA practitioners, to positively respond to adapting our tools and skills to our changing times.

We are proud to support IEMA’s Impact Assessment Network and the Strategic IA working group, which we are both members of. Over the next year, the Strategic IA working group will be developing more content for members, as well as seeking to engage with opportunities to further enhance Strategic IA’s application, including the English review of the planning system and Scotland’s adoption of NPF4 and what this will mean for SEA practice. Strategic IA is adaptable and we look forward to working with IEMA, its members and other practitioners to respond to the challenge and opportunity presented to practice by the climate emergency, development of a circular economy, response to the biodiversity crisis and the need to address inequalities across society.

If you are interested in being involved in the IA Network Strategic IA Working Group, IEMA members can email [email protected] to express an interest in joining the group.

Download a copy of the Outlook Journal here.

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.

About the Guest Editors:

Ellie Askham BSc (Hons), MSc

Principal Environmental Project Manager, Environment Agency

Ellie has worked in strategic IA and Environmental Impact Assessment for over 16 years within the private and public sector. She is a strong advocate for innovation in the field of strategic IA and seeks to improve and challenge practitioners to move towards approaches that truly influence. She enjoys interpreting SEA legislative requirements and provides bespoke specialist advice to complex plans and programmes. Ellie works closely with customers and partners to turn legislation into operational practice and to increase their understanding of requirements. Ellie is currently providing specialist advice to strategic water resource and flood risk management planning.

Josh Fothergill BSc (Hons), MSc, CEnv, FIEMA

Founder & Director at Fothergill Training & Consulting Ltd

Josh is a Fellow of IEMA and Chartered Environmentalist. He has over 20 years’ experience working to enhance the capabilities of individuals and organizations in relation to sustainability and impact assessment (IA). Josh has been involved in strategic IA across his career and is currently project managing such work to shape longterm water resource planning in England. Josh is also the UK’s leading Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) trainer, having trained over 500 delegates in the past five years. Prior to founding FothergillTC, he spent a decade at IEMA as Policy Lead for IA, the circular economy, and the skills needs of a sustainable economy. Josh is a strong advocate for improving practice and founded the EIA Quality Mark scheme to provide a mechanism to boost volunteering and good practice sharing related to IA. He has previously been a volunteer on multiple IEMA groups and co-author of IA guides, and currently acts as co-chair of its Strategic IA Working Group.