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EIA Process and Methods 

by | Mar 30, 2022 | Environmental Impact Assessment

Introduction 

The purpose of vigorously going through all processes in an EIA is to ensure that the public and decision-makers know precisely what the consequences of implementing a proposed project will be. International bodies have established strict processes and methods for EIAs to ensure that the environment is protected and preserved. Faithfully and sincerely following these processes helps developers comply with environmental laws, rules, and regulations. EIA process and methods sustain local and indigenous communities and their traditional sources of livelihood. Procedures and methods in an EIA help develop projects that focus on the sustainable use of resources and preserving the Earth for generations to come. 

Criteria for the Selection of EIA Methodology

1. Simplicity

The methodology should be simple enough for the available workforce to adopt and grasp its concepts easily.

2. Time and Budget

A small group must ideally apply the methodology. This group should possess the ability to work within a limited budget and time.

3. Flexibility

The methodology must contain flexible components. Flexibility in the method allows a group to make modifications and changes throughout the duration of the assessment. 

4. Comprehensiveness

The methodology adopted must contain all possible solutions and alternatives. It should provide enough information to facilitate the decision-making process.

5. Specificity

The methodology must provide the means of identifying specific parameters against which significant impacts can be measured and predicted. 

Screening 

The first stage in an EIA process is screening. Here, the assessors study a proposal and decide whether an EIA needs to be conducted or not. All EIAs follow the same screening procedure. A screening contributes to good EIA by:

  1. Providing an analysis of the merits and demerits of the proposal for decision-makers, and
  2. Influencing the selection of projects by identifying environmentally and socially unsound ones 

The screening step considers impacts over the lifetime of the proposed project, right from its construction phase up to its closing. Assessors can screen out most proposals relatively quickly since they have only a few impacts. However, major large-scale projects might require the assessors to conduct a complete and thorough EIA. This is because large projects have significant and irreversible effects on the environment, public health, and culture.  

The European Union has developed a set of standards for screening proposals. It is based on a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to questions that concern the environment and communities depending on it for livelihood. Some of the questions are:

  1. Will the project or action cause a significant change in environmental conditions?
  2. Will the effects of the project or action extend over a large area?
  3. Will the number of affected people be large?
  4. Will the proposal affect scarce and valuable resources?
  5. Is there a possibility that protected sites may get affected?
  6. Will the effect be continuous over a long period?

Scoping

Scoping forms a critical stage of EIA preparation. It eliminates issues of most minor concern and identifies those that might be valuable during the EIA. Scoping involves:

  1. The identification of all factors that contain social and health risks
  2. Engaging the public
  3. The determination of how much time and space should be allotted for the EIA
  4. The setting of baselines for analysis and identification of alternatives to solve issues 

Scoping is essential in an EIA. It decides the areal bounds of an EIA. It helps establish what an EIA should include—scoping forms the base of a work plan for an EIA. An EIA is costly and requires the completion of many assessments and consultations. Scoping helps reduce the intensity of the EIA process by selecting what is needed and eliminating what is not. The information gathered at this stage is valuable in the next steps of an EIA.

You can carry out scoping in mainly eight steps. They are:

  1. Setting up an expert committee for the execution of the EIA
  2. Establish the area the project will cover and the area the project will influence
  3. Describe alternatives for the preparation, implementation, and closing of the project
  4. Conducting consultations and public involvement programs. Collect their feedback and integrate it into the planning of the project
  5. The assessment must address environmental, biological, and social issues. It would be best if you outlined these.
  6. Defining standards for the assessment of the project
  7. Identifying impacts during all stages of a project. List out the impacts that are significant and non-significant
  8. Setting baselines for data collections

Predictive Models for Impact Assessment 

Mitigation

Mitigation is the step in which experts identify measures to counter, remedy, or minimize impacts. They may also adjust the proposal outline to manage any unintentional or unperceivable consequences. These elements are crucial in offsetting the harmful environmental effects of proposals. 

Monitoring

Are suggesting mitigation measures enough to avoid environmental impact? Of course not! Authorities and organizations must monitor projects after construction to ensure that the developers follow environmental laws and regulations. It also lets authorities compare pre-and post-project development conditions. 

drone technology to support EIA process and methods

https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/iaea-harnesses-drone-technology-to-support-safer-environmental-remediation-in-central-asia 

Auditing

An environmental audit lets developers and authorities assess the environmental performance of a project. The audit shows if the project operation complies with environmental regulations. 

Evaluation of Alternatives

At this stage in the EIA process, organizations compare and evaluate the project proposal or design alternatives. They select some alternatives and eliminate others to ensure that environmental damage is wholly avoided or kept to a minimum.

Decision Making

This is the final step in an EIA. Here, authorities decide whether a project proposal should be shelved or whether it should be allowed to go to the construction stage. 

Methods of Strategic Environmental Assessment 

Strategic Environmental Assessment (EIA Process and Methods)

https://icem.com.au/portfolio-items/strategic-environmental-assessment-sea-of-rayong-province-development-master-plan-and-revision-of-thai-draft-sea-guidelines/ 

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) systematically evaluates the environmental impacts of a project proposal. The main methods that comprise a SEA are:

1. Screening

Like screening in an EIA, SEAs also require screenings to decide if a proposal should be subjected to further assessments.

2. Scoping

In scoping, authorities identify issues that the SEA needs to address. Scoping considers stakeholders’ environmental concerns and addresses them in the SEA study.

3. SEA Study

A SEA study provides a detailed analysis of key environmental concerns. It defines baselines, time constraints, and the likelihood of an impact occurring. In the end, it draws up conclusions and recommends any adjustments to the proposal. 

 

Author

  • The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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