The current process for assessing the environmental impacts of development plans originate from two EU Directives, these are: The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Directive (also known as Strategic Environmental Assessment or ‘SEA’); and the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA).
Through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the government is looking to develop a new domestic framework for environmental assessments.
This bill aims to replace EIAs and SEAs with EORs (Environmental Outcomes Reports). These will focus on specific outcomes and indicators related to the environment. The bill looks to address issues such as inefficiency, duplication and data quality in the current environmental assessment processes.
New approach to environmental assessments
The consultation proposes to streamline and improve environmental assessment processes by focussing on specific outcomes, indicators and mitigation measures. It also looks to strengthen monitoring and enforcement.
The suggested EOR approach will be based on an outcomes-based framework. This will prioritise environmental targets and the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan.
The proposed new outcomes set by Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities include:
- air quality
- landscape and seascape
- geodiversity, soil and sediment
- noise and vibration
- cultural heritage and archaeology