A methodology for the assessment of local-scale changes in marine environmental benefits and its application

Tara Hooper, Philip Cooper, Alistair Hunt, Melanie Austen

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Local-scale planning decisions are required by the existing Environmental Impact Assessment process to take account of the implications of a development on a range of environmental and social factors, and could therefore be supported by an ecosystem services approach. However, empirical assessments at a local scale within the marine environment have focused on only a single or limited set of services. This paper tests the applicability of the ecosystem services approach to environmental impact appraisal by considering how the identification and quantification of a comprehensive suite of benefits provided at a local scale might proceed in practice. A methodology for conducting an Environmental Benefits Assessment (EBA) is proposed, the underlying framework for which follows the recent literature by placing the emphasis on ecosystem benefits, as opposed to services. The EBA methodology also proposes metrics that can be quantified at local scale, and is tested using a case study of a hypothetical tidal barrage development in the Taw Torridge estuary in North Devon, UK. By suggesting some practical steps for assessing environmental benefits, this study aims to stimulate discussion and so advance the development of methods for implementing ecosystem service approaches at a local scale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-74
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date7 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Sustainability
  • Environmental services
  • Environmental benefits assessment
  • Environmental impact appraisal
  • Local-scale quantification
  • Metrics
  • Tidal barrages


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