The essentials of: Environmental Impact Assessments
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is “the process of assessing the likely environmental impacts of a development proposal and identifying options to minimise any potential environmental damage.”
The EIA provides valuable information to the relevant decision-makers regarding the key environmental issues early in the determination process, enabling them to reach a decision as to whether a proposed development should be approved or not. This is the main purpose of an EIA; however, there are a number of other benefits. For example, the process can make the proponent aware of the potential impacts of their development proposal in the initial stages of planning, so that alternatives can be examined or mitigation measures can be incorporated into the design, resulting in future cost savings by addressing all compliance concerns and avoiding fines for environmental damage.
EIA information is usually gathered and compiled in a report, in order to be submitted with the development application to the consent authority. This report may be in the form of a Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), depending on the extent of environmental assessment required and how the development was categorised. In the next article, we will discuss the difference between a SEE and an EIS.