Human Health in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): why the new guidance is so important

30 Jan 2023

Until now, there’s been no UK guidance on addressing human health within the context of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The gap in guidance has hampered sustainable development since 2017, as human health has been on the list of factors EIA should consider, but without clarity as to how this should be implemented.

Addressing the gap are two new impact assessments released in November 2022: ‘Effective Scoping of Human Health in Environmental Impact Assessment’, and ‘Determining Significance for Human Health in Environmental Impact Assessment’.

For leading professionals working in, or commissioning, health assessment for an EIA, the IEMA 2022 publications provide a variety of fundamental questions that are answered for the first time. The guidance was developed by leading practitioners, academics, and health impact assessment experts.

With his vast expertise over the last two decades on defining good practice in impact assessments, RPS is delighted that its Director of Health and Social Impact, Ryngan Pyper is the first author on both of these industry gold standard publications.

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) pair of guidance documents set out a clear position on:

  • Scoping wider determinants of health; and
  • Robustly assessing them with consistent and transparent methods.

Ryngan comments: “This IEMA 2022 guidance provides long-term certainty for all stakeholders involved. This includes developers, impact assessment practitioners, and health stakeholders in what is required in achieving sustainable development without unacceptable harm or detriment to the public and society.”

The guidance highlights key learnings from health impact assessment good practice publications. It also extends the guidance where necessary for the EIA context, and signposts out to further detail where appropriate, reinforcing the need to use competent experts in EIA for specialist topics such as health.

Ryngan adds: “There is now a clear process for identifying potentially significant, beneficial, or adverse population health effects, and this will usually be explained within a dedicated chapter in the EIA report. The chapter brings together all the relevant ways a population’s health may be affected and explains the measures to reduce harm and improve benefits.”

Ryngan has been central to building a consensus with the public health and impact assessment community, with RPS being a founding member of IEMA. This has resulted in a series of seminal publications that have helped in answering the challenge of robustly assessing the wider determinants of health and considering health inequalities as part of EIA:

  • IEMA primer on health in EIA, 2017 (Cave et al.)
  • IAIA and EUPHA pan-European reference paper on health in EIA, 2020 (Cave et al.)
  • IPH guidance on HIA including Health in EIA, 2021 (Pyper et al.)
  • WHO leaning from practice case studies on Health in EIA, 2022 (Pyper et al.)
  • IEMA Guidance, Health in EIA series, 2022 (Pyper et al.)

For more information on this guidance and EIA, please contact Ryngan Pyper –

The full IEMA 2022 guidance is available here: 



Ryngan headshot.jpg

Ryngan Pyper

Health & Social Impact Director T: +44 131 561 1853 Email

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