Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecological Impact Assessment

Ecological Impact Assessment - sometimes shortened to EcIA – is a sub-discipline within Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and is a requirement on many projects - even where a scheme falls outside the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations. EcIA is the process of identifying, quantifying and evaluating the potential effects of a development upon the biosphere.

What does Ecological Impact Assessment involve?

EcIA under the 1999 EIA Regulations

The process of Ecological Impact Assessment involves a systematic procedure to identify, predict and evaluate potential impacts of a proposed developments on the environment - each component of which is called an ‘ecological receptor’. Where an EcIA is undertaken as part of a formal Environmental Impact Assessment it is of course subject to the provisions under the 1999 EIA Regulations which state that an EIA should include the following:

  • A description of those aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected by the development, including amongst other elements fauna, flora, soil, water, air and the inter-relationship between these factors
  • A description of the likely significant effects. These should cover direct effects as well as indirect, secondary, cumulative, short, medium, long-term, permanent and temporary, positive and negative effects resulting from the development, as well as the use of natural resources, emissions of pollutant and waste etc
  • A description of the measures envisaged to prevent, reduce and where possible offset significant adverse effects on the environment
  • A non-technical summary

Non EIA projects

EcIA is not always conducted as part of a Regulations-driven EIA however, and at Andrew McCarthy Ecology we adopt a similar but less lengthy approach for non-EIA developments. The process is effectively the same as for a full EIA, but the level of detail is generally lower and the analysis somewhat reduced. A typical approach to a non-Regulations EcIA would be as follows:
  • Scoping - deciding what needs to be included
  • Baseline data collection - identifying and describing ecological receptors (including protected species)
  • Assigning value to the receptors
  • Describing the avoidance, mitigation and enhancement measures that will be adopted
  • Describing the compensation measures to be adopted in the event that impacts cannot be avoided or mitigated
  • Assessing the residual impacts and their significance

Our approach to the EcIA process

We follow national guidance from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) when preparing EcIA reports and can deliver either stand-alone EcIA documents or ecology chapters for Environmental Statements. We normally provide input to development master-planning during the EcIA process and would discuss with a client and their technical team at this early stage how the presence of a protected species or a notable habitat-type might need to be considered in the emerging scheme design. We also recommend that where possible clients engage early with stakeholders, for example local authorities and statutory agencies, since this can be helpful in ensuring smooth passage of planning applications. We are of course happy to undertake such consultations on behalf of our clients.

Contact us for specialist advice

Whether you require an EcIA as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment or as a non-EIA development, we can help. Call us on 01392 833345 or email info@amecology.co.uk.