This module examines the process of assessing the potential impacts of major developments on the environment- known worldwide as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This is seen globally as major tool to help deliver sustainable development.
The module has two major themes. In the first part of the module emphasis is placed on the philosophy of EIA, and the legal and planning framework in which EIA is used. The second, more practical part, focuses on selected major impacts/issues which need to be considered as part of environmental assessment and the approaches to baseline surveys used by various disciplines to assess and monitor environmental change. Students should gain an intellectual feel for approaches to environmental management and decision-making- plus practically orientated exposure to the approaches used in assessing impacts.
Students will concentrate on EIA procedures in the UK and the European Union, and on the way in which the process integrates different disciplines and different interest groups. At the completion of the course students should be able to judge whether or not a particular project would require an EIA; how such an assessment be produced, what steps would be needed to undertake a baseline survey, how impacts might be mitigated and monitored. They should also be able to discuss critically the strengths and weaknesses of the system and the methods available. Case studies and examples of practice from around the world- both terrestrial and coast/marine- are also included in the module, with targeted support from guest speakers working as EIA professionals.
Practice in researching and writing a detailed report as part of a proposed EIA will be provided through the major coursework exercise, examining a fictional (but not unlikely) local scenario.