29 October 2020

Environmental Impact Assessment – an overview

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) can be defined as “the systematic examination of unintended consequences of a development project or program, with the view to reduce or mitigate negative impacts and maximize on positive ones” (EEAA 1996; El Haggar and El-Azizy 2003).

From: Environmental Solutions, 2005

Related terms:

J. Jeffrey Peirce, … P. Aarne Vesilind, in Environmental Pollution and Control (Fourth Edition), 1998

CONCLUSION

Environmental impact assessment requires that a range of solutions to any given environmental pollution problem be developed, analyzed, and compared. This range of alternatives must be viewed in terms of respective environmental impacts and economic assessments. A nagging question exists throughout any such viewing: Can individuals really measure, in the strict “scientific” sense, degradation of the environment? For example, can we place a value on an unspoiled wilderness area? Unfortunately, qualitative judgments are required to assess many impacts of any project. This balancing of values is the foundation of environmental ethics, the topic of the first chapter of this book.

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Mohammad Ali PhD, in Sustainability Assessment, 2013

6.19 Impact Assessment

Environmental impact assessment may be another process of policy evaluation for the environment. The impact evaluation may be possible by counting the opinions of the affected people or participants, thus the impact assessment of the policy has been termed as social evaluation of policy (Valadez and Bamberger, 1997) and is widely used by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for program analysis. Such evaluation is convenient to conduct before the implementation of the policy looking at how different groups within the society will be affected by a single or a few decision of policy; however, a policy may have many decisions and policy level impacts may affect a whole nation. Under the circumstances, it will be difficult to assess the policy impact based on the opinion survey at national level. Further, application of this process is also not possible for assessing the policies of the distant past after which many incidents must have happened or the participants are absent from the society.

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D. Komínková, in Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, 2016

Introduction

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) was developed as a tool to minimize negative impact of human activities on the environment. The purpose of the environmental impact assessment is to

assess the impact of a proposed activity on the environment before making the decision on whether to carry it out, and

develop and assess measures to avoid or minimize those impacts if it is decided to carry out the activity.

EIA can be defined as a process of collecting information about environmental impacts of a proposed project and consequent relevant decision-making. EIAs also consider aspects such as project alternatives and mitigation measures which should be applied if the project is allowed. History of EIA is almost 50 years long. During this time EIA has developed as a complex tool, which helps in decision-making in the case of proposed projects and helps to identify variation of the projects which will have a minimal impact on the environment in case of acceptable cost. The process of EIA comprises a number of different stages such as screening, scoping, reviewing, and completion. These stages of EIA may be labeled differently in different parts of the world, but their goals are similar. In the EIA process, a range of organizations may be involved, including government agencies, developers, nongovernmental, and public organizations. The level of involvement may vary significantly depending on the type of project that is assessed.

Fig. 1 shows the general structure of the EIA process, which should be followed while preparing environmental impact statement (EIS) for all types of projects.

Fig. 1. Structural features of an EIA process. Each of the features includes “questions” which need to be answered during the EIA process. The proper answers to these “question” are crucial for final decision-making about the project.

The main goal of this article is to provide a broad understanding of the EIA process, for example, of hydropower dam and bridge construction projects. It provides direction on the scope of the EIA, but it is not an EIA by itself. The presentation of a detailed documentation of an EIA is beyond the scope of this book.

The nature and practicality of EIAs will vary. Approaches will vary between countries and between local areas within countries. What may be significant issues in one case may not be considered significant within another jurisdiction. Accordingly, the examples in this article are provided as indicative of approaches to these categories of projects. It is imperative that engineers, planners, and scientists undertaking EIAs consult their national and/or local EIA legislation and guidelines.

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D. Komínková, in Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, 2016

Abstract

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is one of the main legislative tools established to minimize an anthropogenic impact on the environment. EIA can be defined as “a process by which information about the environmental effects of a project is collected, both by the developer and from other sources, and taken into account by the relevant decision-making body before a decision is given on whether the development should go ahead.” Any EIA consists of three key stages. The first stage (preliminary assessment) involves the identification and collection of relevant information, which is called screening. During this step the decision is made on whether an EIA is required for the project. If an EIA is required, then the second stage starts. The second stage, called scoping identifies what constitutes relevant information to be identified and assessed with respect to key impacts of the proposed development. The results from scoping process are reported to the relevant decision-makers in an “environmental impact statement” (EIS). The final stage comprises the review of the EIS and its adequacy as a basis for the competent/approving authority to make the decision on “development conditions.”

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Salim Momtaz, S.M. Zobaidul Kabir, in Evaluating Environmental and Social Impact Assessment in Developing Countries (Second Edition), 2018

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) has its origin in the passage of National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA’69) in the United States. It emerged from the realization that many projects funded by the government in the United States did not pay adequate attention to their environmental impacts in the development and implementation phase and as a result caused major environmental problems. Cost-benefit analysis and other environmental safeguards in place at the time were not adequate for the protection of the environment. This awakening of public conscience regarding environment was occurring in the backdrop of the publication of Rachel Carson’s book titled Silent Spring (1962), the initial activities of the Club of Rome (Meadows et al. 1972) and the first wave of environmental movement in the West throughout the 1960s. NEPA’69 starts with the statement

The purposes of this Act are: To declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality.

NEPA’69 (1969, Sec. 2 [42 USC § 4321], p. 1)

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S.K. Chaulya, G.M. Prasad, in Sensing and Monitoring Technologies for Mines and Hazardous Areas, 2016

7.5.3.4.1 Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is an important part of the approval process for the mining projects and detailed integral part of project development and design. It briefly covers the legislative requirements. It is the best way of predicting potential impacts and identifying early in the planning process for effective and efficient ways of mitigating them. It also provides a sound basis to devise special regulatory requirements, design appropriate environmental management systems (EMS), plan the environmental monitoring regime, and identify focal issues for environmental auditing and reporting. An EIA contains the following important aspects, which may be uploaded to the cloud system for effective environmental management:

1.

A comprehensive description of the environment including the physical, biological, and social aspects which are most likely to be affected by the project.

2.

A detailed description of the project at each stage of development and operation (ie, site preparation, construction, operation, proposed expansions, decommissioning, rehabilitation, and site closure).

3.

Identification of issues relating to physical, ecological, land use, social, infrastructure, heritage, or other aspects.

4.

A description of how the identified impacts will be managed and the levels of protection to be provided.

5.

Alternative approaches for development (eg, lower mining rate, different waste disposal options, local or remote housing of mine staff).

6.

Consideration of the “no development” option to enable appreciation of the consequences of the project not going ahead.

7.

A description of the proposed assessment, monitoring, and review procedures.

8.

A list of the commitments made by the proponents to minimize environmental impacts of the mine.

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Salim Momtaz, S.M. Zobaidul Kabir, in Evaluating Environmental and Social Impact Assessment in Developing Countries, 2013

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has its origin in the passage of National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA ‘69) in the USA. It emerged from the realization that many projects funded by the government in the United States failed to take their environmental impacts into consideration in the development and implementation phase and, as a result, caused major environmental problems. Cost-benefit analysis and other environmental safeguards in place at the time were not adequate for the protection of the environment. This awakening of public conscience regarding environment was happening in the backdrop of the publication of Rachael Curson’s book titled Silent Spring (1962), the initial activities of the Club of Rome (Meadows et al., 1972), and the first wave of environmental movement in the United States of America throughout the 1960s. NEPA ‘69 took effect from January 1970 and provided the basis for similar legislations around the world in the 1970s and 1980s. Developed countries (examples include Canada, European countries, Australia, New Zealand) were quick to accept the concept of EIA and provided legal mandate and/or administrative ruling in favor of EIA. For the developing world, the Asian countries like Indonesia, Taiwan, The Philippines, Singapore, and Hong Kong were at the forefront of EIA adoption. Eventually, other Asian countries joined the club of EIA in the 1990s. African and Latin American countries followed suit. Today, most countries on earth have some form of EIA in place. EIA as a preventative environmental management tool has now been well recognized by the governments of the developed and the developing nations and is well embedded in the planning process.

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Elijah K. Biamah, … Benjamin Kogo, in Developments in Earth Surface Processes, 2013

1.1 Background

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is one of the environmental assessment tools being used worldwide to provide decision-makers and the concerned public with essential information to plan for environmentally sustainable economic development. It is a systematic analysis of projects to determine their potential environmental impacts and the significance of such impacts and to propose measures to mitigate the negative impacts.

EIA is both a planning tool and a decision-making tool. As a planning tool, EIA presents methodologies and techniques for identifying, predicting, and evaluating potential environmental impacts of projects as per the project cycle. As a decision-making tool, it provides information that promotes policy-making and actions that ensure sustainability in the implemented projects. Best-practice EIA identifies environmental risks, lessens conflicts by promoting community participation, minimizes adverse environmental effects, informs decision-makers, and helps lay the base for environmentally sound projects. Benefits of integrating EIA have been observed in all stages of a project, from exploration and planning through construction, operations, decommissioning, and beyond site closure (Sinha, 1998).

EIA has a number of strengths. First, it can be a flexible process and employ a large number of evaluation methods and techniques. Second, EIA is increasingly viewed as a process, not as a mandated document. Third, EIA is becoming more commonly parallel to and part of standard prefeasibility engineering and economic studies. In general, EIA is focused on a previously selected project, and only the better EIAs consider the sector as a whole or the wider implications, such as policies.

In Kenya, where over time the natural resource base has become severely stressed due to unsustainable use, EIA has been necessitated under the Environmental Management and Coordination Act of 1999 (EMCA, 1999), which is the statutory law. Other subsequent environmental regulations and guidelines are mainly the EIA and Audit Regulations of 2003 and EIA Guidelines and Administrative Procedures of 2002.

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