2.7. 3: Environmental Impact Assessment

January 20th, 2011

What is an Environmental Impact assessment (EIA)?

An EIA is a system of identifying what the effects might be on the environment and man from any major development and a way of presenting that information so that it can have an affect on the future of the development.

EIA’s are most often a form of survey made before a major development starts. They look at what the environment is like now and forecast what may happen if the development occurs. Both negative and positive impacts are considered as well as other options to the proposed development.

While often EIA’s have to deal with questions about the effect on the natural environment they can also consider the likely effects on human populations. This is especially true where a development might have an effect on human health or have an economic effect for a community.

What are EIA’s used for?

EIA’s are most often, part of the planning process that governments set out in law when large developments are considered. They provide a documented way of examining environmental impacts that can be used as evidence in the decision making process of any new development.

What developments need an EIA?

The developments that need EIA’s differ from country to country, but certain types of developments tend to be included in the EIA process in most parts of the world.

But they include:

  • Major new road networks
  • Airport and port developments
  • Building power stations
  • Building dams and reservoirs
  • Quarrying
  • Large scale housing projects.

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