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Environmental impact assessment: An international evaluation

Abstract

Experiences with environmental impact assessment (EIA) in a number of countries are discussed in the light of both explicit and implicit goals and objectives. Adequate environmental information is not always available to decision makers because of failure to apply EIA to all relevant decisions, the continuing inadequacies of prediction and evaluation techniques, the failure to consider alternatives adequately, and the bias of some EISs. EIA frequently results in changes to proposals and may result in stricter environmental management conditions in some cases, but some people regard it as a failure because it has not stopped development. Generally, EIA leads to better integration of environmental factors into project planning. Open procedures and freedom of information encourage responsiveness to EIA procedures, which can be weakened by discretionary powers and lack of access to the courts by public interest groups. However, legal standing may have side effects that offset its advantages. EIA can encourage cooperation and coordination between agencies but does not ensure them. Similarly, it can have a limited role in coordinating interstate and international policies. In the long term, the success of EIA depends on adequate monitoring, reassessment, and enforcement over the life of the project. EIA has generally opened up new opportunities for public participation, and may help to reduce conflict. EIA procedures need to be integrated with other environmental protection and development control programs, and various means exist for reducing its cost to developers and the public.

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Hollick, M. Environmental impact assessment: An international evaluation. Environmental Management 10, 157–178 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01867355

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Key words

  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Environmental impact statement
  • Environmental planning
  • Environmental management