IEMA launches digital impact assessment guide

IEMA has today published new guidance to help the sustainability profession embrace digital practices throughout impact assessment (IA) processes.


The Digital Impact Assessment Primer outlines what digital IA is, why it's needed, and how technology like unmanned aerial vehicles, geographic information systems, mobile mapping, virtual reality and remote sensing can be harnessed.

The primer is a significant milestone for the sustainability profession, and the first guidance on digital IA published by IEMA.

Dr Rufus Howard, IA lead at IEMA, said the primer is particularly timely considering the outbreak of coronavirus and increase in home working.

“Digital IA has been steadily evolving over the past five years. The current epidemic will inevitably accelerate this process, with discussions already underway for digital planning hearings. 

“The timing of IEMA's latest primer will therefore be welcomed by professionals as we enter a period of mandatory remote and digital working. The primer will allow developers, regulators, local authorities and practitioners to get up to speed quickly with the current state of digital IA.”

The IEMA IA Digital Working group joined 13 other industry leaders to develop the primer, exploring how digital practices and emerging technologies can be incorporated into the development of IA. 

Together, the working group considered the application of these ideas to environmental IA and strategic environmental assessment, along with several other assessment and appraisal methodologies.

The key opportunities and challenges associated with digital IA, and using digital tools for data analysis and communication, are also discussed in the primer, along with the principles for implementing them, and a consideration of what the next steps will be. 

"Embracing innovation and digital" is one of the four strategic themes for action in IEMA’s Delivering Proportionate EIA strategy.

The Digital Impact Assessment Primer is available for free to IEMA members here and for non-members, a PDF can be purchased here. For an overview, see the pre-launch webinar recording here


Image credit: iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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