Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of Environmental Assessment (BONDA3_U18SF)

University of East Anglia
September 13 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a decision support tool practiced all over the world (Morgan (2102). Conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a resource intensive task for which the tangible costs can be easily calculated, but the intangible benefits cannot. So the economic case for EIA remains unproven. Project proponents in particular often consider EIA to be expensive and ineffective (Macintosh, 2010), so Morrison-Saunders et al. (2015) put out a call seeking “studies that explicitly demonstrate the benefits of impact assessment to proponents”.

This inability to justify the practice of EIA has further led to concerns that it is being eroded by Governments as it is seen as a barrier to development (Bond et al., 2014). That is, if the intangible benefits cannot be identified and demonstrated to be greater than the tangible costs, the future practice of EIA is in doubt.

This research aims to identify the intangible benefits of conducting EIA, and find ways of comparing their value with the tangible costs of the process. The specific objectives are:

  1. To identify the tangible and intangible benefits of conducting EIA

  2. To develop a means of comparing tangible costs and intangible benefits

  3. To determine the net value of conducting EIA

The research will help to develop a number of skills including:

  • Research design

  • Expert elicitation

  • Stakeholder engagement

  • Literature review and documentary analysis

  • Interview techniques

The research will be embedded in the 3S (Science, Society and Sustainability) research group (https://3sresearch.org/) within the School of Environmental Sciences.

Opportunities are also available for UK students, and others who are eligible for Research Council studentships, to apply for ESRC funding to work on similar topics in this area. Please see https://www.uea.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research-degrees/doctoral-training-partnerships/senss-dtp-studentships for more information and contact Alan Bond (alan.bond@uea.ac.uk) if you are eligible.

Funding notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources.  Details of tuition fees can be found at http://www.uea.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research-degrees/fees-and-funding.

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research.  The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess