Environmental assessment now forms an integral part of the planning process for any project which could seriously affect its local environment . Its integration into the design and valuation processes should improve the quality and sustainability of new development projects. As a measure of its significance a growing number of local planning authorities are requiring environmental assessments to be submitted as part of Schedule 2 planning proposals.
Produced as part of a planning application, an environmental statement is prepared on behalf of a developer/landowner, or any other interested party, and outlines the likely impact the development will have on the environment and the measures that the developer proposes to make to minimise any adverse effect.
Typically an environmental statement should covers a general description of the project, the site and surrounding environment, proposed mitigation measures, compliance with relevant environmental policies and legislation and justification of the selected site. It should also be written in a clear, non-technical style easily understood by all.
'Guidance emerging from the European Union shows just how important environmental assessment is becoming. Soon this will be reflected in UK legislation. Our environmental assessment guidance goes further than simply responding to a trend - it puts chartered surveyors firmly at the forefront of the good environmental practice in the property profession.'
Copies of Environmental Assessment: a Guidance Note are available from RICS Books on 0171 222 7000. Price£11 (members) and£13 (non-members).
The involvement of the chartered surveyor as a project manager for environmental assessment may also extend to assembling or managing a team of specialist consultants. The new guidance may typically cover the following:-
- An understanding of the law. Is an Environmental Assessment necessary? Under what specific powers is the Local Authority acting?
- Assuming the EA is necessary, what are the impacts to be assessed? A broad understanding of the relevant potential impacts and sensitive receptors and therefore the scope of the study is required at an early stage. A preliminary scoping exercise is of assistance and can provide invaluable information to the surveyor.
The ES needs to be submitted in respect of two types of projects:
Schedule 1: Projects which include the carrying out of building or other operations, or the change of use of buildings or other land to provide major developments including; crude oil refineries and thermal power stations etc or the carrying out of operations whereby land is filled with special waste, or the change of use of land to use for the deposit of such waste.
Schedule 2: Projects which are considered likely to give rise to significant environmental effects. These include:-
- Major projects which are of more than local importance.
- Projects on a smaller scale which are in particularly sensitive or vulnerable locations and
- Projects with unusually complex or potentially adverse environmental effects.