Environmental Impact Assessment and Mitigation Steps

Author: Mohamed Tash
According to International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA), Environmental Impact Assessment is the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made.
1. Objectives of EIA
The crucial objectives of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are to A) Ensure that environmental considerations are addressed and incorporated into the development decision making process B)Anticipate, avoid, minimize and/or offset the adverse significant biophysical, social and other relevant effects of development proposals C) Protect the productivity and capacity of natural systems and the ecological processes which maintain their functions; and D) Promote development that is sustainable and optimizes resource use and management opportunities.
2. Environmental Impact assessment Application
The environmental impact assessment should be applied as early as possible in decision making and throughout the life cycle of the proposed activity. It should be applied to all development projects that may cause potentially significant effects, bio-physical impacts and significant socioeconomic factors, which include health, gender, culture, age, lifestyle, and cumulative effects consistent with the concept and principles of sustainable development.
3. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
The congress of the United States of America was among the first to enact, in January 1970, a comprehensive legislation, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), using the concept of EIA and requiring a systematic interdisciplinary evaluation of the potential environmental effects of all major federally funded projects. Ever since the adoption of NEPA, national legislation requiring EIAs have increased worldwide and today, even countries without such legislation produce EIAs selectively.
4. Scoping
Scoping is the magnification of screening output. The purpose of scoping is to identify the matters which should be covered in the environmental information submitted by the developer to a governmental authority and, in particular to identify the matters which are of most importance so that these can be addressed in most detail.
5. Role of Public consultation in EIA
Public participation and consultation are key stages in the EIA process. They are important sources of information on EIA for e.g. the identification of impacts, potential mitigation measures and the establishment of alternatives. Public participation and consultation make the EIA process open and transparent.
6. Good Practice in Consultations
The best practices in consultations are: A) Identifying a list of organizations and individuals who are interested in the project and update this as the project develops B) contacting each consulate to request their help in consultation C) sending them information about the project in the form of an attractive leaflet or brochure. Give contact details for information and comment D) Making the leaflet widely available in local centers (libraries, town halls, post offices); possibly provide a copy to every household and business in the area.
7. Environmental Impact Mitigating Measures
Mitigation is a vital ingredient in the EIA process. It is necessary to attain environmentally sound design for mitigation process. The reason for mitigation measures is to shun, decrease or reduce unwanted impacts and boost beneficial impacts. Selecting an alternative is also a form of mitigation in terms of impact, cost and technology.

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