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Environmental Outcomes Reports – A brief introduction

UK Green Fields - Environmental Outcomes Reports

On 20 February 2023, the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill entered the Committee stage in the House of Lords. This is an important moment for any Bill as it will be scrutinised line by line. As currently drafted, the Bill could substantially influence how large projects are developed across the UK. This briefing investigates one of its most impactful changes: the introduction of Environmental Outcomes Reports (EORs).

What are Environmental Outcomes Reports?

EORs are written reports identifying how far a relevant project or plan will impact the delivery of specific environmental outcomes. Introduced under Part 6 of the Bill, they will replace assessments carried out under Environmental Impact Assessment regulations, the current framework for measuring environmental effects. They aim to clarify and simplify an otherwise complicated process.

Regulations will specify the outcomes and projects affected by EORs in due course, but the Bill is clear that every EOR should assess:

  • the extent to which the proposed relevant consent or plan is likely to impact on the delivery of specified environmental outcomes increasing the extent to which a specified environmental outcome is delivered;
  • the steps proposed for the purposes of avoiding, mitigating, remedying or compensating for the effects of that outcome not being delivered.

As within the current mitigation hierarchy, the Bill treats compensation as a last resort, prioritising avoidance, mitigation and remedy in that order.

Those producing EORs should also include any reasonable alternatives to the relevant project which is consistent with the current requirement of EIA.

What projects or plans are likely to be affected?

In a similar way to EIA regulations, EORs are proposed to operate using a two-category approach where certain types of consents either (a) are automatically a “relevant consent” requiring assessment; or (b) only form a “relevant consent” if specific criteria are met.

It is assumed that the likely reach of EORs will at least replicate the current thresholds and requirements for EIA. The emphasis of EORs is, however, intended to “assess against tangible environmental outcomes set by government” (see further detail on the purposes of the bill here).

How do EORs differ to the current system?

Because the Bill delegates much detail to future regulations, specific differences are hard to measure. However, some are already clear:

  1. The new system will apply across the UK, whereas EIA regulations are a devolved matter.
  2. It will report on specific outcomes, whereas the present regime assesses impacts on a range of environmental factors.
  3. Assessment and monitoring to determine when mitigation, remedies or compensation are necessary will be ongoing rather than a one-off report.
  4. Public authorities will report on the delivery of specified environmental outcomes to the Government.


As is often the way, the real detail and scope of EORs will only become clear when the Regulations are published and implemented. The Government’s stated aim is “to deliver more, not less, for the environment” but against a backdrop of environmental groups claiming an ‘attack on nature’ the test will be to see what outcomes the Government sets for developers to meet.

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