Mark Elton
March 2021

Digital EIA - data, mapping & visualisation

The saying 'a picture paints a thousand words’ first appeared in a 1911 newspaper article quoting Arthur Brisbane’s discussion of journalism and publicity, so why – over 100 years on, in the age of mobile phones that can instantly show you local traffic movements, weather, and air pollution levels – do we still insist on preparing lengthy printed EIA documents, with separate volumes for figures and mapping that are inaccessible to everyone other than planning lawyers and EIA consultants.
The good news is that progress is being made thanks to major environmental consultancy innovation, EIA websites, a working group led by IEMA, GIS platforms, and access to open source data. This, together with the last 12 months of us all effectively working remotely online, has led to some positive steps towards truly digital EIA. This presentation explores and highlights some of the innovations and projects that have embraced online presentational tools for EIA and virtual public consultation. It will considers the potential next steps in terms of baseline data, assessment, and reporting, and discuss what’s holding back more rapid progress.