Eleni Antoniades and Ethny Childs
March 2023

Championing competence and a science-led approach to EIA

Today the IES Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Community Working Group has launched a thought piece exploring the key challenges facing EIA professionals and its vision for EIA moving forward. This work is the culmination of a number of discussions held between the working group over the past year, informed by wider EIA Community Debates, since the Community's inception in 2020. To coincide with the launch of the thought piece we are inviting interested members to join the EIA Community, connect with fellow EIA professionals and help shape the IES activities in this area. 

The EIA Community 

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Community was launched in June 2020 and was founded by IES Vice Chair Eleni Antoniades. The aim of the Community is to provide a forum for thought-provoking, critical conversations around EIA from a science-based perspective. The Community aims to connect and support environmental scientists and practitioners working across a range of specialisms involved in the EIA process, and to facilitate meaningful discussion between disciplines on the key issues facing the sector.

The Community champions the ethos of utilising EIA as a tool to support decision-making, which leads to better environmental impacts from developments, and is focussed on providing environmental professionals involved in EIAs with the knowledge and skills to support this. The Community also aims to act as the voice of EIA professionals in the IES membership by responding to relevant consultations and providing information on relevant policy changes. 

A look back at Community work so far

Defining competence 

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 included new requirements for individuals involved in the preparation of EIA to be competent experts, and the competent authority to have, or have access to, sufficient expertise. Following extensive consultation with members, in November 2019 the IES published guidance on the experience and qualifications needed to demonstrate competence in different EIA roles, following the prior publication of a discussion paper reflecting on the consultation findings. 

EIA Community Debates

Since its inception, the community has held virtual debates exploring topical issues related to EIA. The debates aim to stimulate discussion on issues at the forefront of EIA, bringing together professionals involved in EIAs from different sectors and specialisms. In particular, the community aims to centre discussions around the science of EIA and promote a science-based approach to EIA activities and to partner with related professions to promote collaboration and best practice. Each debate features presentations by expert speakers, workshops and facilitated breakout discussions.

Webinar series

A dedicated webinar series was set up to provide EIA professionals with regular CPD opportunities exploring the cutting edge of technology and innovation in the field. Webinars are held quarterly and include the following to date:


The EIA Working Group

A working group was established in 2021 to discuss the challenges facing EIA professionals and to explore how EIA professionals must adapt to a changing environment and to ensure a science-led approach to EIA that supports better environmental outcomes. To explore this topic, discussions around four key themes were held to consider key challenges and propose recommendations to how the EIA profession should evolve: 

  1. The philosophy behind EIA 
  2. The legislative context 
  3. The EIA process
  4. The future of EIA

These discussions are captured in a dedicated thought piece Reframing EIA: A tool for better design for people and planet. 

Get involved 

Join the EIA Community and be the first to hear about tailored services for EIA professionals. You will have the chance to connect with fellow EIA professionals, discuss topical issues and help shape the work of the IES in this space. The Community welcomes all professionals involved in the EIA process, spanning specialisms and sectors. The Community will also collaborate where appropriate with other organisations to support a multidisciplinary approach to EIA topics, ensuring a science-led approach.

Get in touch to join the Community.