New guidance launched today seeks to support EIA professionals to achieve better, faster outcomes to their assessments at reduced cost. The two guides aim to ensure that environmental thinking is firmly embedded into any design processes and project resilience measures.

The guidance documents have been created by IEMA), the in partnership with two leading EIA specialist organisations – LDA Design and Mott MacDonald. In publishing this guidance, IEMA has filled critical guidance gaps on two key EIA issues.

Josh Fothergill, IEMA’s Policy & Engagement Lead on EIA, said today: “Speeding up the process and progress of developments is crucial to the economic recovery, yet without current guidance there is a very real risk of unintended consequences for communities and the environment, resulting in unnecessary delays. It is IEMA’s role to ensure that EIA professionals can produce the best work possible and these guides will support them to create better quality EIAs that enable a smoother consenting process.”

The IEMA Environmental Impact Assessment Guide to: Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation provides a framework for the effective consideration of climate change resilience and adaptation in the Environmental Impact Assessment process, in line with the 2014 European Union Directive. It addresses proportionate assessment, the legislative and policy landscape and looks to the National Adaptation Plan as a crucial anchor point.

Succinctly, an environmental statement produced in line with the guidance will:

  • always make reference to climate change;
  • provide a concise explanation of how the project’s resilience to climate change was considered;
  • set out clearly how effects related to climate change have been assessed; and
  • define the significance of effects by pragmatically taking account of the knowledge base used in the impact assessment.

James Montgomery, Divisional Manager (Environment) at Mott MacDonald (a registered EIA Quality Mark company), led the guide's development, and said: “Taking into account how proposed development will impact on an environment that is itself adapting to climate change is a challenging task that EIA practitioners are going to have to cope with in the future. This guidance will help practitioners by giving prompts on what issues to consider and when in the EIA process. The guidance is the first step to improve our EIA process, and I hope that future versions will be able to build on lessons learned from EIAs conducted taking on board this guidance”.

The IEMA Environmental Impact Assessment Guide to: Shaping Quality Development – establishes the principles and framework for maximising synergy between environmental thinking and project design within the decision-making process. It aims to contribute to the delivery of proportionate EIA by shaping decision-making which leads to higher-quality development proposals. Adhering to the guidance document’s recommendations will result in:

  • improved outcomes for the developer, communities and the environment
  • better informed decision-making
  • better solutions
  • reduced consenting risk, consenting delay and associated costs.

Mary Fisher, Board Director responsible for EIA at EIA Quality Mark registrant LDA Design, who co-authored the guide said: “Today's launch will ensure that EIA professionals are supported to encourage greater collaboration between design and assessment teams leading to development proposals which are better integrated with their environment and thus more likely to be consented. It will also assist the delivery of more-focused, proportionate Environmental Statements.”