Impact Assessment UNIT

The Impact Assessment Unit is a designated EC Europa Centre of Excellence in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which brings together one of the largest teams of expertise in this field worldwide. Through collaborative and interdisciplinary working, the IAU seeks to enhance the understanding globally of the wider sphere of impact appraisal theory and practice. It does this by conducting research, undertaking consultancy and providing knowledge exchange opportunities through professional development training.

Recent research publications

Journals

  • Baldwin C (2015) Assessing impacts on people’s relationships to place and community in health impact assessment: an anthropological approach. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 33(2): 154-159
  • Dixon T and Wilson E (2013) Cities’ low carbon plans in an ‘age of austerity’: an analysis of UK local authority actions, attitudes and responses. Carbon Management 4 (6): 663-680
  • Drayson K, Wood G and Thompson S (2015) Assessing the quality of the ecological components of English environmental statements. Journal of Environmental Management 160 (1): 241-253
  • Durning B (2014) Benefits of coupling environmental assessment and environmental management to aid disaster risk reduction and management. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management 16 (3): 1450029
  • Hansen E and Wood G (2016) Understanding EIA scoping in practice: a pragmatist interpretation of effectiveness. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 58: 1-11
  • Perdicoulis A (2016) Systems thinking and SEA. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 24 (2): 176-179
  • Perdicoulis A, Batista L and Pinho P (2016) Logical chains in territorial impact assessment. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 57: 46-52
  • Pereira G, Ganser R, Wood G and De Conto S M (2014) Environmental impact assessment and the planning process of major sports events in Brazil: a case study of the Rio 2007 Pan American Games. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 32 (1):
  • Shiers D, Weston J, Wilson E, Glasson J and Deller L (2014) Implementing new EU environmental law: the short life of the UK Site Waste Management Plan Regulations. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 57 (7): 1003-1022
  • Swain S and Therivel R (2014) Environmental impacts of civil emergency plans and their exemption SEA. Journal of Environemental Assessment and management 16(3): 1450027
  • Therivel R (2013) Use of sustainability appraisal by English planning inspectors and judges. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 38: 26-34

Conference/ seminar papers

  • Allen J and Durning B (2015) EIA and Nationally Significant Infrastructure. Presentation to the IEMA EIA & ESIA Masterclass, 3rd November, London
  • Durning B (2014) Development of normative values for assessing cumulative environmental impacts of marine renewable energy projects currently within the planning system. Annual UK-Ireland Planning Research Conference, Oxford, UK, 9-11th September
  • Durning B (2013) Climate Change and EIA. ‘Celebrating 25years of EIA in the UK’ Conference of Ireland/UK Branch of International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) University of Liverpool, 10th June (invited speaker)

Books/ book chapters

  • Anderson, J and Baldwin, C (2016) ‘Building Wellbeing: Neighbourhood Flourishing and Approaches for Participatory Urban Design Intervention’, in R. Phillips, C. Wong (eds.), Handbook of Community Well-Being Research, International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life, Springer Publications. DOI 10.1007/978-94-024-0878-2_17
  • Brunner J and Glasson J (eds) (2015) Contemporary issues In Australian urban and regional planning. Routledge: Abingdon
  • Coulter, P and Baldwin, C (2013) Digital Deprivation: New Media, Civil Society and Sustainability in Tragardh, L, Witoszek, N and Taylor, B (eds) Civil Society in the Age of Monitory Democracy. Oxford & New York: Berghahn Books
  • Glasson, J (2013) Regional Planning, in Tewdr-Jones, Phelps and Freestone (eds), The Planning Imagination: Peter Hall and the Study of Urban and Regional Planning, Routledge: Abingdon
  • Lawton-Smith, H and Glasson, J. (2016) UK university models of technology transfer in a global economy. In: Breznitz, S.M. and Etzkowitz, Henry(eds.) University Technology Transfer: The globalization of academic innovation. Routledge Studies in Global Competition. Abingdon, UK: Routledge
  • Perdicoulis A and Glasson J (2016) How clearly is causality communicated in EIA in Fischer T (ed) Progress in environmental assessment policy and management theory and practice. Imperial College Press: London

Practitioner publications

  • Broderick M and Durning B (2016) Shedding light on the dark side. The Environmentalist, March 2016, IEMA
  • Broderick M and Parry G (2014). Noise Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment. The Environmentalist, October 2014, IEMA
  • Broderick M, Medic N and Pearson A (2013). Cumulative Effects – All at Sea. The Environmentalist , April 2013 (IEMA)

Reports

  • Durning B and Broderick M (2015) Mini review of current practice in the assessment of cumulative environmental effects of UK offshore renewable energy developments when carried out to aid decision making in a regulatory context. Report to Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Oxford Brookes University
  • Broderick M and Durning B (2014). Report to public sector client on peer review of environmental statement for proposed residential development. Oxford Brookes University
  • Broderick M and Durning B (2014). Report to public sector client on peer review of environmental statement for underground transport station upgrade. Oxford Brookes University
  • Broderick M and Durning B (2013). Report to public sector client on pPeer review of environmental statement for onshore wind-farm. Oxford Brookes University
  • Thomas, J, Grealy, C, Kurti, L, Wise, P, Farmer, J and Baldwin, C (2015) Review of the Disability Standards for Education, Australia. Urbis Pty Ltd.

Working papers

Baldwin C and King R (2017) What about the people? The socially sustainable, resilient community and urban development. Download copy of the publication here.

Brexit and EIA

How will UK Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) law be affected by exit from the EU?1

On 5 June 1975, 65 per cent of UK voters elected for the UK to join the European Economic Community. On 23 June 2016, over 41 years on, 52 per cent of UK voters declared they wished to leave.

Within the EU, town and country planning is largely left to Member States under the subsidiarity principle. It would be up to each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to retain as much or as little of EIA, habitats and species protection, air quality and water quality as they wished or agreed, subject to international environmental treaty obligations and any provisions regarding cross border environmental standards and decision-making processes that may form part of the new trading arrangements with the EU.

EU Directives

Exit from the EU would not automatically undo UK laws which have been put in place to implement EU Directives. Those laws would remain in place pending change.

This potentially impacts a range of areas, including the environmental permitting regimes of large industrial facilities in sectors such as energy, waste, water, manufacturing and mining. Much of UK law relating to waste, such as WEEE, packaging waste and the management, storage and disposal of waste, falls into this category. Equally, the requirement for comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) on the development of large or environmentally significant facilities derives from an EU Directive on EIA. If the UK takes any path forward other than the Norway/EEA model, careful consideration will be needed as to what the UK’s position should be in relation to the requirements under these Directives.

What about rulings of the European Court of Justice (ECJ)?

UK courts would no longer be bound by the rulings of the ECJ. Any material difference between the interpretations of EU based laws by UK courts and the interpretations of similar laws in EU jurisdictions could present challenges.

International Conventions

The UK is a party to several UN environmental conventions which are currently implemented through EU legislation. In the event of an exit from the EU, the UK would have to consider how its obligations would be covered. These include matters such as climate change (the Framework Convention, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement), access to justice in environmental matters (Aarhus Convention), habitat protection, and the protection of endangered species. Others will not be affected, where EU legislation does not implement the UK’s obligations, such as the OSPAR Convention (Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic) whose implementation is coordinated by Defra (the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs). The Espoo (EIA) Convention (UN Treaty) sets out the obligations of Parties to assess the environmental impact of certain activities at an early stage of planning. It also lays down the general obligation of States to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across boundaries.

Conclusions

The requirement or otherwise for EIA, it is clear that nothing will change for the foreseeable future. The EIA Directive still remains in force, as do the current separate EIA Regulations for England, Scotland and Wales. The requirement for the ‘new’ Directive 2014/52/EU to be transposed into UK law by 16 May 2017 also remains. Even if Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union is invoked, the UK has 2 years to complete the process (and an extension if requested can be provided), with EU legislation remaining firmly in place until the UKs exit is formalised. One benefit of the UK’s EIA Regulations (Statutory Instrutments) is that they are a standalone set of regulations that will remain in force for qualifying development projects.

With regards to the years of case law accumulated since 1985 on the interpretation of EU Directives which influences EIA work on an almost daily basis, legal experts have mooted that a guillotine or cut off date be set to clarify when matters should be referred to which court and to define the applicability of existing case law. Even after the cut-off date, European Court cases will still be relevant and should still be binding – although a litigious elements may come forward that seeks to challenge decisions made by a different decision-maker, under different law.

However, it seems that, in these uncertain times, there is actually a great deal of certainty about EIA. It is not going to disappear.

If you have any queries contact either:

1This note has drawn on similar advice provided by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, Eversheds LLP, Bond Dickinson LLP Bircham Dyson & Bell, Pinsent Masons LLP, Burgess Salmon, Norton Rose Fulbright, Osborne Clarke.