Southwark is situated on the southern part of the Thames and it is surrounded on the northern side by the City of London, to the west by Lambeth and to the east by Lewisham. Companies such as Pearson Group, which brings into being the Financial Times and the Daily Express, Lloyds TSB Bank, Ernst and Young and KPMG, are found in the Borough. There is also a thriving small business sector. However, Southwark remains the twenty-sixth most disadvantaged Borough in England and has relatively high levels of unemployment. The projected development of an Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) at the former Gas Works Site, Old Kent Road, Bermondsey, London led to the assessment of the community and social impacts; as the outcome of a proposal on a local community is an important part of an EIA.
This review aims to highlight best-practice findings in relation to the socio-economic assessment of Southwark Borough; identifying oversights and limitations where necessary, and discussing on the ease of finding appropriate information in the electronic package provided.
This section has provided strategic information on various section and sub-sections; however, some sections do not give detailed information. For instance Chapter 15 sub-section 15.2 on legislation and planning context provides areas that make reference to planning policy statements, they include:
The Planning Policy Statement 10 (PPS10): Planning for Sustainable Waste Management, July 2005, Chapter 15 sub-section 15.2.2 which states that in choosing sites and regions to classify for waste management facilities, Waste Planning Authorities should consider the increasing effect of previous waste disposal facilities on the welfare of the locals, including any serious impacts on environmental quality, social cohesion and the economy.
The Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London, February 2008 which seeks to encourage the development of London in a sustainable way. The Policy also laid emphasis on the promotion of corporate social responsibility and new proposals should consider the input of development in fortifying local communities and economies including the chance for local businesses and for the training of local people.
The Southwark Plan, July 2007 which states that all land use resolutions must be geared towards sustainable development that meets the needs of Southwark's varied population and the economy at the same time as recuperating convenience and value of life. Development should help eliminate obstacles to employment and increase admittance to jobs for local people.
The Environmental Statement offered a substantial amount of information on baseline conditions in order to show and give a clear understanding of areas of concern in Southwark Borough. Based on the information provided, it is evident that on a number of significant indicators, particularly the economic activity rates, unemployment, occupational structures, earnings and qualification, Southwark is relatively economically deprived with current levels of claimant unemployment being slightly high in Livesey Ward and Southwark Borough compared to the rest of London. However, the baseline information had a notable limitation, such as out dated data from the 2001 Census. There is no efficient information on topics like unemployment. Thus, there is no clarity on whether the social and economic conditions made known by the investigation have changed much.
In terms of the methods used for predicting the magnitude of individual impacts, information provided is not in-depth and there are no notable justifications.
Mitigation & Monitoring
A detailed explanation of mitigation and monitoring procedures has been provided, showing a classification and appraisal of key impacts carried out at both the construction and operational stages. It has been stated in Chapter 15 sub-section 15.6.5 that the construction phase of the projected development is likely to last for not more than 20 months with about 80 people expected to be in employment at the time of construction. However, irrespective of the large numbers of people employed, it is deemed implausible that the amount of workers needed for the development, would put pressure on the construction industry. Categorically, the impact of the projected development in terms of employment in the construction phase is likely to be beneficial based on the level to which workers are brought in from other sources. Over the choice of likely effects, it is further concluded that there would be no serious impact which would call for mitigation. Chapter 15 sub-section 15.6.7, shows that at the Operational Phase, about 274 people will be in employment, with various numbers involved in different sections and activities. Also, it has been specified that the jobs are not expected to need considerable level of skill or qualifications. Nonetheless, Veolia is dedicated to providing training where necessary to ensure the smooth and effective running of the facility. In this light, it is evident that if the proposed scheme is put to a stop, unemployment rates will be on a rise and economic activity rates will decline.
Generally, the proposals are unlikely to cause any undesirable effects in the community and social arena that will require mitigation, Impacts of the proposed development will be slight to moderate beneficial in both the construction and operational phases with no disadvantages in term of the overheating of the local labour market.
For most of the part, the Environmental Statement has been presented in an all-inclusive way providing a detailed contents page, headings and appendices for easy access; however, there is a notable omission in Chapter fifteen sub-sections 15.3.6 titled 'Field Work, this sub-section stated that there has not been any field work carried out without giving a justification.
Southwark has a young, mobile and ethnically diverse population. Even with very high levels of social deprivation there has been considerable progress in narrowing the health gap in Southwark. While Southwark has many activities in place to address health inequalities, it has lacked a clear strategy.
When contemplating a new project, or important changes to existing policies or services, the Local Authority should take health determinants and their effect on inequalities into account. Services and amenities should be targeted according to need. This means that those who are most disadvantaged should be prioritised and protected from negative health impacts. A health inequality impact assessment checklist can focus attention on the needs of vulnerable groups.
Involvement plans and community engagement are also significant. Appropriate measures of health inequalities are needed to help monitor progress and inform future service development, and these should be routinely available to facilitate regular review and reporting. Community engagement is essential to inform prioritisation and decision-making, to establish public support and ownership over interventions and as a process which itself facilitates access to, and control over local service provision. There is the need for effective scrutiny arrangements to ensure that there is appropriate challenge of proposed policy developments so that efforts to address health inequalities are not compromised by incompatible policies elsewhere.
Finally, a comprehensive programme of training for staff at all levels is required so that everyone recognizes, and can take action to support ways in which their roles contribute to addressing health inequalities. This needs to include the engagement of local communities and the role that community outreach plays supporting and educating local people
- Planning Policy Statement 10 (PPS10): Planning for Sustainable Waste Management, July 2005.
- The London Plan, Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004), February 2008.
- The Southwark Plan, July 2007 http://www.southwark.gov.uk/downloads/download/2284/the_southwark_plan