Aspects Of Environmental Impact Assessment

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Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a key aspect of many large scale preparation applications. It is a technique that is meant to help us understand the potential environmental impacts of major development proposals. We can say EIA is just an information gathering work out that is carried out by the developer and other bodies which enables a Local Planning Authority to understand the environmental effects of a development before reaching a decision whether or not the development should go ahead. The most important thing about environmental assessments is how they stress on using the best available sources of objective information and they also carry out a systematic and holistic process which should be bias free and allow the local authority and the whole community to properly understand the impact of the proposed development. It should lead to better standards of development and in some cases development not happening at all. Where developments are approved and they do go ahead environmental assessments should help to propose proper mitigation measures. Environmental impact assessment is meant to be a systematic process which leads to a final product, the Environmental Statement (ES).
The EIA process is derived from European law. In a simple world EIA would apply to all forms of development but just to confuse everyone, EIA is not applicable to all kinds of development, it is applicable to certain kinds of development. Deciding on whether an EIA is required can be the source of major argument between developers, communities and local authorities. It is important to note that not all EIA processes require specialist input; generally speaking, specialist involvement is needed when the environment could be signifi...

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... be shockingly effective in participating in the process, they only need to have a basic understanding of the process and apply their local knowledge effectively. Things to look out for are phrases such as “desk top survey” which is short hand for nobody had time to look at the site. The quality of ES can be surprisingly poor with developers often keen to do the least possible to get the application through so it is important that local people go on asking critical questions of the applicant and local authority planners. In the future EIA is likely to be applied to ever more forms of development. New measures will soon ensure the Strategic Environmental Assessment of planning policy and investment programmes. EIA can be made into a useful tool to defend the environmental quality of localities but only if local people feel able to engage with the process effectively.
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