Cumulative impact assessment evaluation

Developing a framework for undertaking cumulative impact assessment in MPAs

Natural England commissioned ABPmer, in association with Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Consulting, to evaluate methods for undertaking both marine and terrestrial cumulative impact assessments (CIAs).

Building on this review, the project team developed a generic CIA framework, providing clear guidance on the process which could be adopted for robust and comprehensive CIA for all projects affecting MPAs. We then applied the generic CIA framework in a hypothetical case study to test and demonstrate its use and value. The study focused on the scoping and planning of the CIA and provides the foundation for further work on other phases of CIA (including assessment and mitigation).

The proposed framework provides a logical method that both developers and Natural England can use to identify the scope of any required CIA for plans or projects that may affect MPAs. It establishes a number of steps with a set of key questions at each one which guide the user in identifying the scope of a CIA.

The practical framework can be used by Natural England case officers involved in guiding the scope of marine CIA for development projects. It can also be readily applied to the consideration of CIA requirements for non-MPA environmental features.

The related report can be found on Natural England’s website.