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Environmental Impact Assessment, ecosystems services and the case of energy crops in England

Coleby, Alastor M. and van der Horst, Dan and Hubacek, Klaus and Goodier, Chris and Burgess, Paul J. and Graves, Anil and Lord, Richard and Howard, David (2012) Environmental Impact Assessment, ecosystems services and the case of energy crops in England. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 55 (3). pp. 369-385. ISSN 0964-0568

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Abstract

A consequence of the increased requirements for renewable energy is likely to be allocation of more land to bio-energy crop production. Recent regulatory changes in England, as in other parts of the UK, mean that changes in land-use are increasingly subject to screening through Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This paper reviews these regulatory changes and explores the potential benefits of incorporating a fuller examination of ecosystem services within EIA procedures. The authors argue that such an approach could help achieve sustainability by identifying the best options within an area, rather than concentrating on the negative effects of selected proposed projects. It could also help highlight the benefits provided by existing and proposed agricultural, forestry, peri-urban and urban systems. However, successful implementation of an ecosystem services approach would also require a greater understanding of the societal preferences for the full range of ecosystem services at a landscape scale, as well as the trade-offs and synergies between uses of specific services.