Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a key tool to help ensure sustainable built development in more than 200 countries worldwide. Ecology is frequently a component of EIA and early reviews of Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) chapters identified scope for improvement at almost every stage of the EcIA process, regardless of country. However, there have been no reviews of UK EcIA chapters since 2000, despite important changes in biodiversity and planning legislation, policy and guidance. In addition, no UK EcIA chapter reviews have attempted to assign a grade or score to EcIA chapters (as has been done for reviews of US, Finnish and Indian EcIA chapters). Furthermore, no EcIA chapter reviews have attempted to use a scoring system to identify which variables determine EcIA chapter information content, beyond straightforward comparisons of EcIA chapters before and after the introduction of guidelines.
A variant of the Biodiversity Assessment Index (BAI) was used to assign scores between zero and one to EcIA chapters based on a series of 47 questions drawn from EU legislation and professional guidance. 112 EcIA chapters for proposed developments that were subsequently granted planning permission in England were assessed. The mean BAI score was less than 0.5, indicating the presence of considerable information gaps in the majority of EcIA chapters.
Of 13 predictor variables identified as having the potential to affect EcIA chapter quality, 10 were identified as significantly related to the BAI scores. A backward stepwise Generalized Linear Model identified the use of professional guidance, the ecological consultancy type and the length of the EcIA chapter as having the greatest combined explanatory power. As a result, several recommendations are made to help improve future EcIA chapter content, including formal EcIA chapter review, publicising the professional guidance to consultants, the provision of training and the introduction of an accreditation scheme for consultants involved in EcIA.
Drayson, KWood, JGThompson, S
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Biological and Medical SciencesFaculty of Technology, Design and Environment\School of the Built Environment
Year of publication: 2015Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-06-27