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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Sam Briggs: Determination of significance in Ecological Impact Assessment

All major infrastructure developments require a systematic Environmental Impact Assessment before getting permission to proceed from regulators. As part of the process, an Ecological Impact Assessment evaluates potential impacts on wildlife. Crucially, this investigation must determine whether any impacts are ‘significant’- but this term has been poorly defined and developers and consultants have struggled to establish best practice for more than 20 years.

Sam, who worked with a consultancy on a work placement during his MEnvSci degree course, looked at the evolution of this process over the last 20 years- looking back at impact reports to trace improvements, and exploring the issues with environmental consultants, developers and government agencies. He found that guidelines produced recently by the Institute of Ecological and Environmental Management have brought greater consistency, so better decisions can be made about whether big developments can be given the go-ahead. Sam and his supervisor were accepted for publication in an international research journal (see below). Since graduation Sam has been working in Africa for a sustainable farming charity.

Briggs, Sam and Hudson, Malcolm D. (2013) Determination of significance in ecological impact assessment: past change, current practice and future improvements. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 38, 16-25

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