Evaluating the adequacy of an
An EIA should be able to assist;
To serve these purposes, an EIA must perform a number of distinct tasks.
The objective of evaluating reports is to determine whether the tasks are
to plan, design and implement their projects in a way that minimizes
adverse impacts on the biophysical and socioeconomic environments, and
captures potential environmental benefits;
GOVERNMENT OR LICENSING AUTHORITIES
to decide whether or not a project should be approved and, if so, under
what terms and conditions; and
to understand a project and its environmental effects, and to make
informed and substantive comments in the process of project review and
H.1 BASIC GUIDELINES
For an EIA report to be useful, it has to disclose all relevant environmental
considerations associated with a project and also provide information needed
by decision-makers to assess the acceptability of the environmental consequences.
Thus, the reviewer asks a number of basic questions before coming up with
conclusions on the effectiveness of the report:
H.2 REVIEW TOPICS FOR EVALUATING
AN EIA REPORT
Has the EIA report addressed all the important issues in the terms-of-reference?
Does it analyze all the relevant environmental issues associated with the
Is it suitably focused on the key questions that need to be answered to
make a decision about the proposed project?
Are the methods used to gather and analyze information both scientifically
and technically sound?
Is the EIA report clearly and coherently organized and presented so that
it can be understood, especially by the lay public and decision-makers?
Does the EIA report provide the information needed by decision-makers to
assess whether or not the environmental consequences are acceptable?
Standard, comprehensive review topics are presented below to assist
reviewers of an EIA Report to answer the above basic questions in a consistent,
systematic and consistent manner. While this is their primary purpose,
the review topics should also be usefi'1 to project developers in drafting
terms-of-reference for an EIA report and in appreciating what the Environmental
Affairs Department expects from an EIA report. They should also be useful
to the public to guide their own reviews of an EIA report and focus their
comments on salient issues. The review topics are designed to alert reviewers
to areas of weakness or omission in an EIA Report. These most often occur
when certain tasks are omitted; unsuitable or ad hoc methods are used;
biased or inaccurate supporting data are introduced; or the rationale or
justification for conclusions is not given. In this way, sources of weakness
can be identified and, if necessary, becomes the subject of revision or
further specialist investigation.
The review topics are organized into four Review Areas:
Each Review Area contains a number of Review Categories (the numbered items)
with more detailed Review Criteria (the bulleted items). By considering
the integrity of an ELL report for each set of Review Criteria, a reviewer
can make a judgement about its adequacy in the Review Category. Overall,
the effectiveness of the EIA report in the four Review Areas contribute
to judging the value of the EIA as whole. Review topics which should be
treated satisfactorily for an EIA report to meet the minimum requirements
generally expected of such reports are printed in bold.
Description of the development, the local environment and the baseline
Identification, analysis and assessment of impacts;
Consideration of alternatives and impact mitigation; and
Communication of the results.
The review topics are arranged, so far as is possible, to reflect the
order in which tasks should be performed in carrying out an EIA. This is
important because many of the later tasks (topics) require information
which will only be available if earlier tasks have been adequately performed.
The comprehensive treatment of mitigation measures, for example, will only
be possible if all significant impacts have been correctly identified and
analyzed. The reviewer should be alert to these interactions and take them
into account in his/her evaluations. Thus, in using the review topics,
it is best to work through the four Review Areas in order.
Reviewers should bear in mind that a review topic is properly handled
if there is sufficient information to allow a decision-maker to make an
informed decision without having to seek further advice. Also, the information
needed to consider any particular topic may not be located all in one place,
and may be implicit in the treatment of other topics rather than explicitly
Finally and most importantly, use of these review topics assist a reviewer
to make a judgement as to whether or not an EIA report does a good job
of assessing the impacts of a development project. They do not assist in
determining whether or not these impacts are acceptable This distinction
is important because an EIA report should provide information to support
decision-makers in carrying out their responsibilities, and not try to
carry out their responsibilities for them. Report reviewers have the saline
task. It is their role to analyze an EIA report, determine if it does a
proper job or needs revision or further study, and then advise decision-makers
of the results so that decisions can be considered and made about the project
Area 1: Description of the development, the local environment and
the baseline conditions
1.1 Description of the development:
The purpose(s) of the development is described as well as its physical
characteristics, scale and design. Quantities of materials needed during
construction and operation are included and, where appropriate, a description
of the production processes.
1.2 Site description:
The on-site land requirements of the development are described as well
as the duration of each land use.
The purpose(s) and objectives of the development are clearly explained.
The design, size or scale of the development, and the nature and duration
of construction and operation activities, are clearly described. There
is a proper indication of the physical presence or appearance of the completed
development within the receiving environment. Diagrams, plans, charts,
maps and/or photographs are used effectively for this purpose.
The report describes the environmental planning that went into the design
of the project to minimize negative environmental effects and capture potential
Important design features, especially those for environmental and socio-economic
management (ea. pollution control, waste management, erosion control, handling
of toxic or hazardous materials, worker services) are highlighted.
The nature and quantities of materials needed during both the construction
and operational phases are described as well as, where appropriate, the
nature of the production processes.
The number of workers involved with the project during both construction
and operation are estimated.
1.3 Residuals: The
types and quantities of residual and/or waste matter and energy created
are estimated, the expected rate of production given, and the proposed
disposal routes to the environment defined.
The land area taken up by the development site is well defined and its
location clearly shown on a map.
The uses to which this land will be put are described and the different
land use areas demarcated.
Where alternate plans, designs or sites are being considered, each is adequately
discussed in detail.
1.4 Bounding the study:
Appropriate boundaries to the study area and time horizon are identified.
The types and quantities of waste matter, energy and residual materials,
and the rate at which these will be produced, are properly estimated. Uncertainties
are acknowledged and ranges or confidence limits given where possible.
The ways in which it is proposed to handle and/or treat these wastes and
residuals is indicated, together with the routes by which they will eventually
be disposed of to the environment.
1.5 Baseline conditions:
A description of the affected environment as it is currently, and as it
could be expected to develop if the project were not to proceed, is presented.
The environment expected to be affected by the development is delimited
with the aid of suitable scale map(s).
The affected environment is defined broadly enough to include any potentially
significant effects occurring away from the immediate project site(s).
These may be caused by, for example, the dispersion of pollutants, off-site
infrastructure requirements, etc.
The time horizon of the study is defined and long enough to account for
The important components of the affected environments are clearly identified
and described. The methods and investigation undertaken for this purpose
are disclosed and are appropriate to the size and complexity of the assessment
task. An appropriate amount of field work was done. Uncertainties are indicated.
Existing data sources were searched and, where relevant, used. These include
local authority records and studies carried out by, or on behalf of, government
and private-sector organisations.
Local land use and development plans were consulted and other data collected
as necessary to assist in the determination of the probable future state
of the environment, in the absence of the project, taking into account
natural flucuations and human activities.
Area 2: Identification, analysis and assessment of Impacts
2.1 Identification of impacts:
All potentially significant impacts are identified. Key impacts are also
identified and the main investigation centred on these.
2.3 Analysis of impact seventy:
The likely impacts of the development on the environment are analyzed and
described in as precise terms as possible.
All important issues identified in the EIA terms-of-reference are included
in the report. Deviations and exclusions are properly accounted for.
Direct and indirect impacts are identified using a systematic methodology
(e.g. project-specific checklists, interaction matrices, impact networks,
expert judgement, and extensive consultations). A brief description of
the impact identification methods is given along with the rationale for
Due attention is paid to environmentally-sensitive areas; to off-site,
time delayed or recurring (ea. seasonal) impacts; and to cumulative or
synergistic effects with existing and anticipated developments.
Consideration is not limited to effects which will occur under design operating
conditions. Where appropriate, impacts which might arise from non-standard
operating conditions, or due to accidents, are also included.
All phases of the project are considered -- e.g. pre-construction, construction,
operation and decommissioning.
Key impacts were identified and selected for more intense investigation.
The scoping methods are described and their use justified.
2.4 Assessment of impact significance:
The expected significance that the projected impacts will have for society
are properly assessed. The sources of quality standards plus the rationale,
assumptions and value judgements used in assessing significance are fully
Impacts are analyzed as the deviation from baseline conditions, i.e. the
difference between environmental conditions expected if the development
were not to proceed and those expected as a consequence of it.
The data used to estimate the severity of impacts is sufficient for the
task and clearly described. Any gaps in the required data are indicated
and accounted for.
The methods used to predict impact severity are described and are appropriate
to the size and importance of the projected disturbance. The assumptions
and limitations of the methods used are explicitly discussed.
Descriptions of impact severity encompass the appropriate characteristics
of impact (e.g.. magnitude, areal extent, duration, frequency, reversibility,
likelihood of occurrence).
Where possible, estimates of impacts are recorded in measurable quantities
with ranges and/or confidence limits as appropriate. Qualitative descriptions,
where necessary, are as fully defined as possible (e.g. “minor means not
perceptible from more than 100 metres”).
The significance of all impacts which will remain after mitigation are
described and clearly distinguished from impact severity.
The significance of impacts is assessed using appropriate national and
international quality standards where available. Explicit account is taken
of the values placed on affected environmental features locally, nationally
and (where appropriate) internationally.
The choice of standards' assumptions and value systems used to assess significance
are justified and the existence of opposing or contrary opinions acknowledged.
Wherever possible, economic values are attributed to environmental costs
Individuals' groups, communities and government agencies affected by the
project are clearly identified.
Area 3: Alternatives and Mitigation
3.1 Alternatives:Project alternatives
are considered. These are outlined, the environmental implications of each
are presented, and the reasons for their adoption or rejection briefly
3.2 Scope and effectiveness of
mitigation measures: All significant
adverse impacts are considered for mitigation. Evidence is presented to
show that proposed impact management measures will be appropriate and effective.
Alternate sites, processes, designs and operating conditions are considered
where these are practicable and available to the developer. The main environmental
advantages and disadvantages of these are discussed and the reasons for
the final choice given.
Where possible, alternate construction strategies (e.g. timing, local versus
imported labour) are considered and assessed for their environmental and
For public-sector proposals, alternate means of achieving project goals
are considered (e.g. energy efficiency investments versus dams for energy
supply). If not, the report discusses why this was not done.
3.3 Commitment to mitigation:
The project developer clearly expresses his/her commitment to, and capability
of, carrying out the mitigation measures.
Concerned stake holder (e.g. individuals, groups, communities, government
agencies) have been adequately consulted and their views accounted for
in the development of mitigation measures.
The mitigation of all significant adverse impacts is considered. Wherever
possible, specific mitigation measures are defined in practical terms (e.g.
costs; manpower, equipment and technology needs; timing).
Any residual or unmitigated impacts are discussed and justification offered
as to why these impacts should not or cannot be mitigated.
It is clear to what extent the mitigation methods will be effective. Where
the effectiveness is uncertain or depends on assumptions about operating
procedures, climatic conditions, etc., data is introduced to justify the
acceptance of these assumptions.
An effective environmental monitoring and management plan is presented
to deal with expected, possible but uncertain, and unforeseen impacts caused
by the project. Training needs are identified. The costs of the programme
are estimated. Developer and government responsibilities are distinguished
and reporting procedures are specified.
4.1 Public consultation: There were genuine
and adequate consultations with concerned project stake holder to appraise
them of the project and its implications, and to obtain their views on
key issues to be investigated and managed. The objectives, scope and results
of the public consultation programme are clearly documented the report.
4.2 Layout: The
layout of the report enables the reader to find and assimilate information
easily and quickly. External data sources are acknowledged.
Care is taken in the presentation of information to make sure that it is
accessible to the
There is an introduction briefly describing the project, the aim of the
environmental impact assessment and how this can be achieved.
Information is logically arranged in sections or chapters and the whereabouts
of important data is indicated in a table of contents or index. Terms-of-reference
and data used in the assessment are included in appendices. The study team
members are identified.
When data, conclusions or quality standards from external sources are introduced,
the original source is acknowledged at that point in the text.. Fir reference
is included in a footnote or in a list of references.
4.4 Emphasis: Information
is presented without bias and receives the emphasis appropriate to its
importance in the context of the project.
The report is presented as an integrated whole. Data presented in appendices
is Fully discussed in the main body of the text.
4.5 Non-technical summary:
There is an adequate non-technical summary outlining the main conclusions
and how they were reached.
Prominence and emphasis is given to all potentially significant impacts,
both adverse and beneficial, in a balanced manner.
The report is unbiased and does not argue for any particular point of view.
There is an adequate non-technical summary of the analysis and main findings
of the study. Technical terms, lists of data and detailed explanations
of scientific reasoning are avoided.
The summary is comprehensive, containing at least a brief description of
the project and its environmental setting, an account of the main impacts
and mitigation measures to be undertaken by the developer, and a description
of any remaining or residual impacts. A brief explanation of the methods
by which information and data were obtained, and an indication of the confidence
which can be placed in them, is also included.