Cumulative impact assessment for municipal and regional planning.

The MiSt Programme

The goal of this project is to investigate barriers and opportunities for conducting cumulative environmental assessment of projects and plans through a series of small interrelated projects. This will be done by using different methodologies. This research has four aims. First, a review will be made of the international research surrounding the issue of cumulative impact assessment. Secondly a minor field investigation into why cumulative impact is being conducted is performed. Thirdly, the research aims to demonstrate a method for conducting cumulative impact assessment that will be possible to use in municipal and regional planning as well as for environmental protection and management. The final aim of this research project is to communicate the knowledge gained through attending conferences and publishing the results in international research journals as well as publishing in relevant Swedish media directed at planners, ecologists, etc.

Previous research has shown that there is a clear lack of awareness of the existence of cumulative environmental assessment or the interpretation of the concept. In fact, there is no evidence if the actors in the case studies performed interpreted cumulative environmental assessment differently or if there is a difference between projects initiated by a public authority or the private sector. If there is such a difference in the definition or interpretation of what a cumulative environmental assessment should be is something that will be explored in the project. Although cumulative environmental assessment might have different interpretations, it should not be the sole reason for why Swedish project developers are not implementing it. To explore barriers to CIA, we will use a case study approach. Project selection will be done by review and scanning existing EIA documents regarding plans and projects. The reason for us to mention both plans and projects is that municipal development plans have an intermediate position between a traditional project (in the EIA meaning) and a (true) plan.

The modelling done in the project is intended for use in checking results found in other parts of the MiSt programme. Of special interest is research done by fms (The Environmental Strategies Research Group ‑ the work being done on scenarios). Since their project(s) and ours are going in parallel, tests of the results from fms are interesting to perform during the last year(s) of the programme only. There is even a potential to use the scenarios developed in these bodies of work as input for conducting CIA within our project. We intend to work directly with Dr. Jake Piper and Professor John Glasson at the School of Planning, Oxford Brooks University, UK. They intend to help in establishing the methodology for this investigation, using their previous experience as a guideline.

The project will be part of a licentiate thesis if additional funding can be achieved.

Target groups will be researchers within CIA around the World, as well as the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and EIA practitioners. Hopefully the findings in the project can be used to produce better EIA:s, preferably in Sweden but also elsewhere around the globe. The latter might be possible since the project leader and project researcher are engaged in an EIA helpdesk for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Associate professor Hans-Georg Wallentinus will act as project leader. Assistant professor Eric Rapaport, Univ. of Northern British Columbia will act as external project facilitator. MSc Antoienette Oscarsson will be the main researcher in the project. The responsible institution is the Department of Landscape Planning Ultuna, SLU.

 

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