Environment Architects

GUEST ARTICLE: What could the new EOR proposals mean for development?

  • 19 Oct 2023

The Environmental Outcomes Reports (EORs) consultation was launched by the government with a view to EORs superseding the existing framework of strategic environmental assessments and environmental impact assessments (EIAs). The proposals are being brought forward as a component of the long-awaited Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and could introduce a number of new factors which developers will need to consider in the design and delivery of new schemes. 

As consultation opens for the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, bringing potential changes to EORs closer, Tom Kibblewhite, Co-Founder and Director of specialist chartered surveyor, Proximity, outlines what the EOR proposals could mean for development.

“An Environmental Outcomes Report (EOR) is a document laying out the impact of a project or plan on the delivery of a certain set of environmental deliverables. It will replace the previous assessments completed as per the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations. There are a number of factors that will be assessed under the new EOR rules, which form part of the government’s commitment to put sustainability and environmental considerations at the heart of any new developments.

The new EORs will ensure that environmental considerations are prioritised from the very earliest stages of a new project. It aims to reach a state whereby environmental factors will be cleared at the outset, with the hard work done up-front, thereby limiting the risk of legal challenge – and the potential for spiralling development costs – further down the line. It does offer a welcome certainty for developers that, within often complex projects, the environmental aspects have been covered off.

‘A key benefit’

This clarity is a key benefit for developers, as is the creation of a more streamlined, easier-to-navigate and ultimately more effective tool to drive environmental priorities.

Architecture

‘A positive move’

On the face of things, the transition to the EOR framework appears to be a positive move for development, albeit at a time when the industry is getting to grips with a range of legislative changes, from EPC ratings through to new Building Regulations. Understandably, developers will be hoping that the proposals help speed up planning decisions rather than stunting works and causing delay.

The focus on early engagement is a very positive move – early appraisal of risk is to be encouraged.

Early identification of any environmental priorities and the risks they could pose to the design of a scheme, and ultimately its viability, will increase the likelihood of mitigating any issues and preventing lengthy and potentially costly delays.

There are various elements that will need to be appraised as part of the EOR framework, including biodiversity, geodiversity, noise and vibration, air quality and soil and sediment. As specialists in daylight and sunlight amenity impact assessments, we also expect this to play a major role in the new reporting. It will also aim to enhance environmental measures like Biodiversity Net Gain and Local Nature Recovery Strategies.

We are also likely to see some element of carbon reduction measures incorporated given the looming net zero carbon targets.

The new framework is very much in-keeping with sentiment within real estate and the growing focus on ESG and responsible business. As pressure on developers to deliver both commercially successful and environmentally-sound projects grows, early appraisal of environmental elements should be welcomed.

However, as is the case with any consultation process, the devil is in the detail and the industry will await the outcome with interest.”

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