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The Ecological Component of Environmental Impact Assessment

A Critical Review of British Environmental Statements

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Environmental assessment (EA) of the impacts of development is required
under the 1985 European Directive 85/337/EEC, which is implemented in Britain
primarily through the 1988 Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental
Effects) Regulations. Ecology provides analytical procedures for studying relationships
between organisms and their environment and therefore has an obvious role in EA. The
status of ecology within the British EA process was investigated by analysing 179
environmental statements (ESs) produced between 1988 and 1993. In many cases, the
ecological information provided was so limited in quantity, or of such poor quality, that
it was not possible to assess the ecological implications of proposed schemes. Many ESs
failed to provide the data necessary to predict ecological impacts. Potential ecological
impacts were reported in 93% of statements, but only 9% made any attempt to quantify
them. Of those ESs which made references to ecological effects, only 45% based their
® ndings on new ecological survey information. Consultation with statutory consultees
for nature conservation was reported in 48% of ESs. Although 78% of ESs mentioned
mitigation measures, only 23% described them in detail. A major shortcoming was the
universal failure to make any commitment to monitoring of development impacts. In
addition to the lack of formal requirements for monitoring, the lack of guidance for
ecologists and developers involved in EA is concluded to be a major factor behind some
of the shortcomings summarized in this paper.