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New IEMA guidance should help environmental professionals deliver quicker and better advice, bringing down costs of planning decisions

Hard-pressed environmental professionals weighed down by weighty tomes on environmental impact assessment (EIA) can now benefit from new guidance helping them to deliver better, faster outcomes.

The guidance, which should help cut the time and resources needed in planning decisions, comes in the form of two new publications available from the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) that will continue to be refined as experience of their use grows.

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 close the gap between environmental assessment and design teams, helping to deliver more proportionate EIAs that deliver higher-quality development proposals.

Key benefits are improved outcomes for the developer, communities and the environment, better informed decision-making and better solutions. Crucially for developers, these lead to reduced consenting risks, delays and associated costs.

The IEMA Environmental Impact Assessment Guide to: Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation provides a framework for assessing these two key issues in line with the amended EIA directive of 2014, plugging a gap in many current assessments. It aims to ensure environmental statements always consider climate change, and concisely explain how a project’s resilience to climate change and climate-related effects was considered. The guide helps practitioners to assess the significance of effects by “pragmatically taking account of the knowledge base used in the impact assessment”.

The guides have been developed by IEMA with EIA specialists LDA Design and Mott MacDonald respectively.

Launching the new guides, Josh Fothergill, IEMA’s policy and engagement lead on EIA, said: “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.”

He added: “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 guidance documents are available from: www.iema.net/policy-impact-assessment-resources.

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