Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

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Environmental impact assessment (EIA) entails a multifaceted appraisement of the possible aftermath caused by a project or action on the surrounding man-made and natural environment (Wood, 2003). This systematic process requires the involvement of all interested stakeholders in the process and the public, in order to achieve a widespread consent on the planned project and mitigation strategies proposed [European Commission (EC), 2014]. EIA was firstly presented in the United States (US) in 1969 under the National Environmental Policy Act, in order to aid the decision making and planning processes, while in Europe was adopted in 1985 with the name of European Union Directive (85/337/EEC) on Environmental Impact Assessment or EIA Directive (ibidem). Since then it has been amended in 1997, 2003, 2009 and in 2013, although a final comment and approval from the EC is still expected [European Parliament (EP), 2013]. The EIA Directive aims to be integrative of all interested actors and to make a wide range of projects sustainable, in order to protect the environment, enhance the quality of life and reduce any friction between planners, developers and local communities [European Union (EU), 2009]. It is a process constituted by different stages from screening to evaluating and monitoring the impacts of the project implemented (Wood, 2003). Referring to practical cases, this paper analyses all stages of the EIA Directive; furthermore it explores whether public participation is considered in each phase of the assessment and it explains why the public is involved only at certain stages of the EIA. The stages of the EIA process include screening, scoping, impact prediction, evaluation and mitigation, decision-making and, finally, monitoring t... ... middle of paper ... ...cy making. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 30, 19-27; • Sinclair, J. and Diduck, A. (1995). Public education: an undervalued component of the environmental assessment public involvement process. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 15, 219-240; • Snell, T. and Cowell, L. (2006).Scoping in environmental impact assessment: Balancing precaution and efficiency? Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 26, 359-376; • The Scottish Government (2013). Environmental Impact Assessment. Retrieved February, 3, 2014, from http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/08/6471/5; • Wood, C. (2003). Environmental Impact Assessment: A Comparative Review. 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson Education. • Wood, G., Glasson, J. and Becker, J. (2006). EIA scoping in England and Wales: Practitioner approaches, perspectives and constraints. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 26, 221-241.
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