A Public Bill Committee is currently scrutinising the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB). Rufus Howard, IEMA’s Policy and Engagement Lead, sets out the Institute’s key recommendations for ensuring the Bill improves the impact assessment regime in England.

The Bill includes reforms to impact assessment through new proposals to introduce Environmental Outcome Reports and amend the existing procedures.

The existing assessment regimes, of environmental impact assessment (EIA) for projects, and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for plans, have been developed over more than three decades. They have evolved to provide robust assessment of plans and projects which have the greatest risk of significant adverse impacts on communities and the environment.

It is critically important that any reforms to the assessment regime seize the opportunity to further improve these vital safeguards, and does not unintentionally erode these protections. The underlying rationale for carrying out these assessments is to inform sustainable decision-making that is geared at managing population pressures, climate change, and continued urban and infrastructure development in a finite geography.

EIA and SEA are not designed to prevent development, they are valuable tools to aid decision making to ensure that projects are well-designed, sited appropriately, and seek to embed the principle of avoiding significant adverse impacts on people and the environment.

IEMA are concerned that a number of the key policy recommendations that we have developed for improving impact assessment in England are not currently recognised in the draft legislation or wider policy development landscape, including the need to:

  • Promote evidence-based practice
  • Mandate the use of competent experts
  • Improve public participation
  • Create a national impact assessment unit
  • Publish clear requirements and standards for impact assessment

The recommendations stem from the policy work that IEMA has carried out in this space over several years, covering how we can ensure that the new system of impact assessment does not reduce the overall level of protection for our natural environment, but rather strengthens it.

We have written to the Public Bill Committee on LURB with these recommendations. More information on that can be found here

Photo of Rufus howard
Rufus Howard

Policy and Engagement Lead at IEMA, IEMA

Dr Howard is the policy and engagement lead for Impact Assessment at IEMA and a leading professional in EIA, with two decades of international experience across renewable energy and major infrastructure.


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