I am delighted to have been asked to be the Guest Editor for the latest IEMA Impact Assessment Outlook Journal looking at Public Participation, Stakeholder Engagement and Impact Assessment.
Public participation is fundamental to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). However, compliance with the basic legislative requirements for consultation is one thing, but to be effective, engagement must also be carefully planned, tailored to each proposal and Impact Assessment (IA) process, and follow some well-established principles. This volume sets out some of these principles and asks questions about why, how, and with whom engagement is necessary, and what makes for good practice engagement on the ground, including the use of a wide range of techniques to meet various engagement objectives. In particular, the current government review of the environmental assessment regimes in England and Northern Ireland, and the potential introduction of Environmental Outcome Reports, gives a unique opportunity for reflection on the state of practice in these jurisdictions.
What is clear from the research and practice is that undertaking engagement that goes beyond the legislative minimum will be beneficial for all involved. The various articles in this edition of Outlook explore some of the characteristics of effective engagement: from being clear about the level of influence the public may have on a decision or Impact Assessment process, utilising tools like the IAP2 Spectrum, having clear communications, to challenging the status quo and thinking about inclusivity in a way that builds capacity of the community, of a range of interested parties, and of those who are interested in or affected by proposals.
The authors of the papers in this edition of Outlook provide insight into new and interesting approaches, specific techniques, and other considerations. A recurring theme throughout the papers is to advocate for engagement and communications that is dynamic, flexible, adapts to the circumstances though holds to some firm principles of what makes for good practice engagement. The integrated nature of effective engagement and communications, central to IA practice, reinforces the need for EIA and other practitioners to continue to build skills and awareness of different approaches, reaching different audiences and advocating for community voice in EIA and related decision-making processes.
If you have found this collection of papers useful and thought-provoking, please check the IEMA website (https://www.iema.net/events) for future events that may be linked to the themes explored in the journal.
If you are interested in being involved in an IEMA Working Group, IEMA members can email [email protected] to express an interest in joining a group.
Download your copy 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.
Posted on 8th February 2023
Written by Tanya Burdett
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