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Executive Summary
Decision-making in the field of environmental management is facilitated by use of a diverse
set of environmental management tools (EMT) available to the decision-maker. Three of
these tools are applied to the construction of stadium next to the University of the West of
England to assess their suitability to the project and appreciate their advantages or
disadvantages in each application. The three tools are environmental impact assessment
(EIA), strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA). EIA
provides good coverage of environmental effects and is a well-accepted tool across the globe
in terms of environmental management. However, EIA lacks the ability to be applied on
higher level decisions necessary to ensure that sustainable goals are met with such a large,
high impact project. SEA covers a wide scope of environmental issues and certainly
possesses the ability to promote sustainable development for the project while operating at a
higher decision-making level compared to EIA. Still, the application of SEA would require a
large amount of time and resources if quality information is to be provided to the decisionmaker. LCA allows the decision maker to scrutinise the emissions to the environment of each
stage of the stadiums life, but at the cost of losing qualitative value of the data as it is
transformed into quantitative data. Ideally, all these EMTs and more would be applied to all
projects, but time, resource and financial restraints prevent this from happening. However, it
may still be possible to combine EMTs such as LCA and EIA to provide comprehensive
information to the decision-maker. Obligatory EMTs must be supplemented by voluntary
EMTs to ensure the decision-maker can make the best decision available.

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1.0

Introduction

Growing public concern about the environment has been one of the main catalysts in the
incorporation of environmental aspects into all levels of decision-making. In order to
facilitate this process of decision making, a variety of tools have been developed to provide
important information for the decision-maker; each with their own advantages and
disadvantages (Moberg, 2006). The selection of a particular type of tool in any situation
depends on the context which the decision is based upon. Knowing which tool to select for a
specific project is critical to ensure that the correct decisions are made based upon the
collected information.

1.1

Project Background

The project consists of the proposed University of West England Stadium, also called the
UWE Stadium, set to be constructed on a 9.3 hectare site located next to UWEs Frenchay
campus in South Gloucestershire. The new project also includes retail outlets, conference
facilities, recreational spaces, gyms and a car park for 1,000 vehicles. The new stadium will
create and estimated 270 jobs as well as offer part time work for students of UWE. The
approximate location of the construction site in relation to UWE is shown in Figure 1.1. The
project site is located approximately 1 km northwest of the M34 motorway, 7 km north of
Bristol city and 10 km east of the coast of the Bristol Channel.

Figure 1.1. Map showing University of West England with the construction area shown in
red (Google Maps, 2015).
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Figure 1.2. Map showing University of West England in relation to Bristol City and the
Bristol Channel (Google Maps, 2015).

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2.0

Environmental Management Tools

There are a multitude of environmental management tools in use around the world. Table 2.1
lists these tools and describes the type of decision support that the tools uses. Although Table
2.1 is not an exhaustive list, it is interesting to note that only two out of the tools listed utilise
a procedural decision support type as opposed to an analytical one. The three environmental
management tools investigated in this report are Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA),
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This section
will provide an introduction to these tools, highlight the factors influencing their selection as
well as point out any advantages and disadvantages they might have.

Table 2.1. List of most environmental management tools arranged in descending alphabetical
order along with the respective abbreviation and decision support type. Adapted from Moberg
(2006)
Tool
Cost Benefit Analysis
Direct Material Consumption
Direct Material Input
Ecological Footprint
Environmental Impact Assessment
Environmental Management System
Energy Analysis
Input-Output Analysis
Impact Pathway Approach
Life Cycle Assessment
Life Cycle Costing
Multiple Attribute Analysis
Material Intensity Per Unit Service
Material Flow Analysis
Risk Assessment
Strategic Environmental Assessment
System of Economic and Environmental Accounts
Substance Flow Analysis
Total Material Requirement
2.1

Abbreviation
CBA
DMC
DMI
EF
EIA
EMS
En
IOA
IPA
LCA
LCC
MAA
MIPS
MFA
RA
SEA
SEEA
SFA
TMR

Decision Support
Analytical
Procedural

Analytical

Procedural
Analytical

Environmental Impact Assessment

The concept of the EIA first emerged from the United States (US) National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA) in 1970 which integrated the impact assessment process into legislation
for the first time (ORiordan & Sewell, 1981). Under NEPA, any developments which may
affect the public, community and natural environment must be supplemented with a publicly
available statement of environmental impacts and the considerations taken to address these
concerns (Morgan, 2012). Following recent environmental events in the past few decades
such as frequent natural disasters and rising oil prices, rising public demand for attention to
the environment drove the adoption of EIA in many countries across the globe (Wood, 2003).
In the United Kingdom (UK), the framework for domestic regulations were based on a 1985
European Directive (85/337/EEC).
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Proposal
Identificati
on

Screening

Scoping

Review

Mitigation

Impact
Analysis

DecisionMaking

Follow Up

Figure 2.1. A typical EIA process. Adapted from Fuller (2011a).

The evolution of EIA over the recent decades has produced several different forms of
impact assessment which are commonly referred to under the umbrella term of EIA (Morgan,
2012). Thus, in order to clarify the meaning EIA in the context of this report, its definition
will be stated as the process of assessing proposed projects to determine their environmental
consequences and formulating solutions to address any issues before conclusions are made to
commit these actions (Morgan, 1998). In other words, an EIA is used to establish baseline
conditions of the proposed site and predicting the magnitude of a projects environmental
impacts before construction activities begin (Fuller, 2011a). After identification of these
negative impacts, amendments may be made to the project to reduce or negate them. The
major steps involved in the execution of an EIA is shown in Figure 2.1.
EIA is well established as the key component in environmental management around
the world. The well-established nature of EIA is one of its strengths which allows it to be
supported by many professional bodies, international agencies and tertiary institutions around
the world. Apart from that, the transparency of the EIA process as well as involvement of the
public in certain stages of the EIA which allows decisions to be made with some public input.
Also, due to the legislative framework surrounding EIA, certain projects are obligated to be
supplemented with an EIA which ensures that serious or high-impact projects are unable to
escape environmental scrutiny.
However, EIA does have some drawbacks which prevent it from becoming the
complete solution for addressing environmental issues. One of the main disadvantages is
the apparent failure of EIA to reduce the emission levels of greenhouse gases despite its
widespread global adoption. This leads to another limitation of EIA which is the fact that it
cannot address higher level decisions that set the developmental framework of the projects
under scrutiny since it occurs relatively late in the decision making process as shown in
Figure 2.2.

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2.2

Strategic Environmental Assessment

The term SEA originated from an interim report to the European Commission by Wood and
Djeddour (1989). SEA is increasingly being referred to as a collection of tools or approaches
to environmental problems or the Swiss army knife of environmental management
(Partidario, 2000; Dallal-Clayton & Sadler, 2005). This versatility of SEA enables it to be
used as a facilitator for individual and organisational learning, instil environmental awareness
among project participants and improve transparency of the planning process (Owens, Rayner
& Bina, 2004; Tetlow & Hanusch, 2012). In order to ensure the meaning of SEA is clear in
the context of this report, its definition will be stated as a systematic process to assess the
environmental impacts of any proposed policies, plans or programmes initiatives to ensure
that they are fully included and appropriately addressed at the earliest stage of decision
making to meet the standards of economic and social considerations (Sadler & Verheem,
1996). Alternatively, Fuller (2011b) defines an SEA as a tool used to reveal environmental
repercussions of certain policies, plans and programmes.

SEA

SEA

SEA

EIA

POLICY

e.g. National transport policy

PLAN

e.g. Long term national road plan

PROGRAMME

e.g. Five-year road building


programme

PROJECTe.g. Proposed construction of

motorway

Figure 2.2. Different tiers of the decision-making process as well as which tool is used at
each level. Adapted from Lee and Wood (1987).

The process of SEA arose from the apparent limitations of EIA in order to take into
account factors such as sustainability, cumulative repercussions and long-term achievements
of the project which EIA could not address (Therivel, 2010). It is important to note that SEA
operates on the level of policies, plans and programmes while EIA operates on the level of
projects. Lee and Wood (1987) provide examples of these distinct areas of operation in Figure
2.2. In other words, the SEA process begins at an earlier stage than EIA giving it the ability to
influence what types of projects will be undertaken which is one of the strengths SEA has
over EIA.

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Other advantages of SEA include the ability to observe the bigger picture by being
able to address the cumulative environmental impacts of several projects where individual
EIAs would not be able to address since they are constrained to their respective projects. In
addition, Therivel (2010) states that SEA adds an extra dimension to the decision-making
process where sustainability and the environment would be considered alongside financial,
technical and political considerations.
On the other hand, SEA is resource intensive due to the amount of information
required for the SEA to facilitate the decision-making process effectively. In this it shares a
similar weakness with EIA that the effectiveness of the EMT application relies on the quality
and quantity of information gathered. Inaccurate or incomplete data handicaps the SEA, as
well as EIA, process can yield inconclusive or incorrect conclusions on which the decisionmaker must base a judgement on. Thus, if the creation of SEA was aimed at addressing the
limitations of EIA, would it be acceptable to replace EIA with SEA? Fuller (2011b) disagrees
and explains that expanding the scope to the strategic level with an SEA would sacrifice the
detail that comes with an EIA.

2.3

Life Cycle Assessment

LCA evolved from a method of determining the efficiency of resource utilisation of products
and materials by balancing the energy and materials across a system (Hunt & Franklin, 1996).
Today, it is an important tool for businesses and governments to improve the environmental
elements of any products, materials and activities. Jahren & Sui (2014) define an LCA as an
environmental assessment of the life cycle of a product, component or group of products.
Basically, an LCA examines all aspects of the life cycle of a certain product which include
the acquisition of its raw materials, the fabrication of the product, the use of the product and
its disposal. Also called from cradle to grave approach, an LCA focuses on the overall
impact of a product or service throughout its lifespan. Figure 2.3 shows the four key phases in
an LCA which McLaren (2011) points out is an iterative process since the scope of the LCA
can be redefined based on findings as the LCA is carried out.
Moberg (2006) provides a concise explanation of the four stages involved in an LCA.
In the first stage of an LCA, namely the goal and scope definition phase, the goal of the study
is defined, system boundaries are set and a functional unit is defined. The second stage of the
LCA sees the identification and quantification of any data that is deemed relevant; essentially
converting any data into numbers so that calculations may be processed easier. The LCAs
third stage is where the evaluation of the potential environmental impacts occurs and is called
impact assessment. The final stage of the LCA is called interpretation and is where everything
gained from the previous steps are considered.

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(1) Goal and scope


definition

(2) Inventory
analysis

(4) Interpretation

Direct application

(3) Impact
assessment

Figure 2.3. The four main phases of an LCA. Adapted from McLaren (2011).

The key advantage of using LCA is the comprehensive detail available to the
decision-maker on the environmental aspects of the product or service at each stage of its life.
This prevents any issues in one stage of a product lifecycle from being shifted to another
stage. In addition, an LCA is a flexible tool which may be able to be combined with or
supplement other EMTs such as LCC, CBA or EIA (Tukker, 2000).
However, the amount of detailed information that an LCA may provide also requires
intensive resources to collect and process. In fact, the data collected by LCA may not always
represent real-life conditions. This is because some qualitative data is transformed into
quantitative data in order for the second stage of LCA to function effectively. In fact, any
LCA involves a degree of assumptions and subjective valuation procedures (Ayres, 1994).

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3.0

Application of Tools and Discussion

An EIA would be carried out before the construction phase of the stadium would be
carried out. In this EIA, the environmental effects of the project activities to the air, water,
ground, sound and the surrounding habitat will be identified and predicted. Following this,
suggestions and recommendations will be put forward to reduce or negate effects of the
project. Table A.1 in the Appendix shows the categories of impacts assessed in an EIA on the
project, what the magnitude of these impacts will be and any recommendations to reduce
these effects. The application of EIA to this project has shown that it focuses on the localised
environmental effects. For example, the EIA may suggest ways to reduce vehicle emissions
for the parking area of the stadium, but may not take into account the emissions of vehicles
that arrive from outside the area. In fact, the EIA does not address issues that arise from
higher levels of decision making such as sourcing of construction materials to ensure that
they are sustainable. In addition, the EIA cannot address issues that are not in the project
scope. An example is that the EIA cannot address the need for better infrastructure to support
the inflow of vehicles coming to the stadium especially during events which may require a
separate EIA since it is a separate project. However, some recommendations may be able to
address multiple issues such as incorporating a minimum percentage of grass areas into the
design of the stadium. On the other hand, the EIA may recommend mitigation measures that
are difficult to implement without incurring significant cost, extending the project deadline or
a radical redesign of the stadium such as ensuring the architecture of the stadium shall be in
harmony with its surroundings. Additionally, some recommendations of the EIA might not be
able to eliminate some negative environmental impacts; only minimise them.
An SEA would be carried out on the policies, plans and programmes proposed before
the project would be conceived. It is to be noted that the construction of the stadium is the
proposed project which is covered by an EIA. An SEA will scrutinise higher level decisions
leading up to the proposal of the stadium. It can be assumed that any policies, plans and
programmes leading up to the project share common objectives. Among these objectives are
assumed to be reducing unemployment, enhancing university facilities, providing
entertainment to the population and enhancing the athletic ability of the country. All these
objectives can be fulfilled by construction of a stadium. The SEA will ensure all activities
directly or indirectly related to the stadium will be sustainable and any negative
environmental effects are addressed. For example, the construction of bigger roads to
accommodate a larger flow of vehicles to the stadium must be carried out in a sustainable
manner. In fact, it may be better to recommend new public transport services to the stadium
so that people may opt to use those instead of drive. In contrast to EIA, SEA will take a
holistic view of the stadium construction and will not just focus on localised impacts.
An LCA would start with the birth of the stadium from raw materials, the
functioning of the stadium in its lifetime and finally the grave of the stadium which is the
demolition of the stadium and disposal of its materials. The acquisition of raw materials for
the stadium would include, but is not limited to, where aggregate for the concrete would be
sourced and steel for reinforcement bars. In addition, after the fabrication of the concrete, the
actual construction of the stadium would be taken into account. The functioning of the
stadium would include the waste and emissions generated as well as energy required
throughout its operation. The disposal of the stadium would comprise of the demolition
process of the stadium. After demolition, some materials are disposed, but some may be

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recycled in other projects such as the concrete which may be crushed to be used as aggregate.
The quantity of emission released throughout these stages would be estimated and calculated.
Any areas where reductions in emissions are possible would be highlighted and amendments
would be recommended to incorporate these reductions. What is distinct in LCA compared to
SEA and EIA is that this method places a focus on the stadium, its materials and emissions to
the environment as opposed to other non-environmental effects such as cultural heritage.
LCA provides a way to examine the environmental issues on quantitative basis where
adjustments and effects can be measured numerically. This provides a degree of predictability
in the reduction of negative environmental effects of the project. However, within an LCA
there exists a degree of estimation and assumptions especially when qualitative data is
transformed into qualitative data. These estimations may or may not accurately reflect the
actual conditions and may impair the ability of the decision-maker to make the correct
judgement.

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4.0

Conclusion

In an ideal world, it is desirable to apply all the EMTs available to a certain project. However,
time, financial and resource constraints mean that only a few of these EMTs are ever applied
to a specific project. Some may offer advantages over others and some will complement each
other. However, apart from legally obligated EMTs such as EIA and SEA for certain
proposals, some EMTs are not getting the attention they deserve. For this project, the
obligatory EMTs must be carried out, but also supplemented with voluntary EMTs to ensure
that a sufficiently complete collection of information is available to the decision-maker.
However, EMTs that gather relatively identical information is a waste of resources and must
be avoided. An EIA is required by law and an LCA may be also applied to provide a different
perspective on the matter. An SEA may also be required depending on certain factors, but if
resources are available, then it should be carried out especially on high-profile or high-impact
projects. As a conclusion, more is better in the case of EMT application and more information
will assist in making better decisions in all cases.

(2973 words)

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5.0

References

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Tetlow, M. F. & Hanusch, M. (2012). Strategic environmental assessment: The state of the
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Appendix
Table A.1. Results of application of EIA on the project. Positive impacts denoted with +
sign and negative impacts denoted with - sign.
Category

Predicted impact

Human
beings

-Sleep or peace disturbance from


noise;
-Dust from construction may cause
lung/breathing problems

Flora and
fauna

-Destruction of grass (which leads


to);
-Loss of habitat for animals;

Climate
change

Water

Soil

-Greenhouse gas emissions from


climate control systems of the
stadium and facilities;
-Loss of land area for water
infiltration during rain (which leads
to);
-Increased water runoff (which leads
to);
-Increased likelihood of flood;
-Polluted runoff may reach nearby
coastline;
-Fertilizer/insecticide used for
football pitch may infiltrate into soil;

-Vehicle parking may attract large


numbers of vehicles (which leads
Air
to);
-Increased vehicle emissions in the
area;
Cultural +No historical buildings required to
heritage be demolished;
-Stadium architecture may conflict
with local building architecture;
Landscape
-Large grass fields removed for
construction of stadium;

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Mitigation measures
Acoustic design needed to minimise
excessive sound impact;
Plant trees to serve as barrier between
sound and residential areas;
Reduce escape of dust from
construction site (e.g. water spraying)
Transfer fauna to new habitat;
Incorporate grass areas in new
stadium;
Ensure efficient operation of climate
control systems;
Ensure proper insulation of indoor
areas;
Proper drainage design;
Incorporate grass areas in new
stadium;
Porous pavements suggested;
Incorporate flood mitigation features
into stadium design (e.g. grass
swales);
Use environmentally friendly
fertilizer;
Prevent deep infiltration by an
artificial barrier (e.g. subterranean
plastic/drainage)
Promote use of electric cars with
rechargeable parking bays;
Situate public transport facilities
nearby (e.g. bus stops)
Ensure construction site has no
historical significance;
Ensure stadium architecture blends
into surrounding area and buildings;
Incorporate grass areas in new
stadium;