Getting EIA in proportion

Tom Smeeton and Peter George set out how to ensure a balance to EIA outputs

Proportionality in the assessment of environmental effects and the development design process is often cited but rarely delivered. Research by IEMA has indicated that the main text of many environmental statements run to more than 350 pages, while those relating to nationally significant infrastructure projects are often nearer double that figure.    So how can proportionality be achieved at key stages of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process and what are the perceived barriers to delivering an effective, concise and proportionate EIA?   

Cumbersome and unwieldy

EIA reports the predicted significant effects that a development proposal will have on the environment, enabling a decision to be made about whether to grant consent.   However, many EIA environmental statements (ESs) have become large, cumbersome and unwieldy documents, and feedback from stakeholders reveals that this often makes them inaccessible.    Reasons for the seemingly ever-expanding statements include the fear of challenge or the risk of litigation, resulting in a temptation to scope in topics with little consideration of whether the anticipated impacts are significant.   Some legal teams have a tendency to insist information is included despite it adding little value to the document or whether it is materially relevant ...

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