EIA and EMS integration : Not wasting the opportunity
Environmental tools such as environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental management systems (EMS) can be applied to ensure that major projects are constructed and operated using an approach that enables effective environmental protection. Previous research has shown that these tools are frequently applied in isolation at different stages of the project life cycle. The extent of EIA/EMS integration amongst nine of the biggest UK waste management companies was investigated through semi-structured interviews with environmental staff and thematic analysis of their responses. The research found that partial integration of EIA and EMS is widespread. Companies recognised a range of potential benefits to more closely integrating their processes such as system efficiencies, data availability and recognition from the regulator. However, significant barriers to further integration were identified in the form of cost, company structure and the size of the organisation. In a context where the regulation of the waste industry is increasingly aligned towards a risk-based approach, there is a new opportunity to use EIA outputs in an enhanced EMS. More generally, companies should seek to maintain continuity of personnel across the project life cycle and structure their environmental functions so that EIA and EMS staff can work more closely. This would help ensure that the greatest benefit is derived from both tools.