Several IEMA members joined the Shadow Levelling Up Minister, Alex Norris MP, this morning to discuss the need for legislation that delivers effective outcomes for the natural environment as part of the planning and development process in England. Here Ben Goodwin, IEMA’s Head of Policy, looks at the key talking points from the roundtable discussion.

Ensuring that legislation and the policymaking process prioritises effective environmental impact assessment (EIA) through planning is a priority for IEMA. This has been our key focus since planning reform first began with the publication of the Planning White Paper consultation in August 2020.

The conversation at this morning’s roundtable, with members from across the planning and development spectrum – including legal, consultancy, academia, and local government – not only reaffirmed why EIA is so important but also what we need from the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to ensure that it is an effective component of our planning system.

With the Shadow Minister listening in, the proceedings kicked off with some reflections on how the future of the Bill looks more certain following confirmation that levelling up remains part of Rishi Sunak’s programme for government.

With this good news the conversation moved on to the need for the face of the Bill to include more prescription around the climate and wider environment agendas; locking in provisions that ensure environmental protection is front and centre in England at the national, regional, and local levels.

Other talking points focused on the need for the Bill to do more on enhancing conditions for people and communities from development and the need for a cultural shift away from development at any cost to a situation whereby development delivers maximum value for all.

Calls that IEMA has consistently made for the inclusion of provisions in the Bill that enable greater public participation in EIA and the planning system generally, were also discussed and acknowledged as critical by attendees. As was the need for a national impact assessment unit, with the Bill viewed as an appropriate vehicle for the realisation of this.

Overall, the discussions demonstrated that with the application of good EIA, the development of the built environment can be done in a way that delivers both for the economy and for the natural environment. Leading to more equitable outcomes for all.

The roundtable was the second in a series of similar events that IEMA’s policy team is putting together. It followed a session that we held with the Shadow Energy Minister on the theme of green skills. The write-up for that can be found here.

Future sessions will examine the expectations of UK businesses for the COP15 negotiations taking place in Montreal in December, plus the latest developments on the Environment Act and the UK’s pathway to net zero emissions by 2050.

Across the roundtable series, we plan to host guest speakers from the government, as well as from the opposition parties, the private sector, charities and academia. If you are interested in participating, please get in touch at [email protected].

Photo of Ben goodwin
Ben Goodwin

Head of Policy, IEMA

Ben joined IEMA towards the end of 2020 to take up the role of Head of Policy. In this capacity he looks after the delivery of IEMAs core policy and practice outputs across a range of environmental and sustainability issues.