If you are in the construction industry, the term EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) will likely be familiar. If you work in other sectors as well, you might have come across the term.
EIA is a tool to check the environmental effects of a project, policy or action before it is carried out to consider the potential damages. Now much more than we think, simple projects have both long and short term effects on the immediate environment, and no, this goes beyond trees, it covers soils, animals, air quality, landscape, noise e.t.c
How exactly is the assessment carried out?
Around the world, there is a standard EIA procedure. Once there is a plan for a project, the project owners contact the authorities and licensed experts who start with (1) Screening the project, what need to be known at this point is an overview of the project, not a lot of technical details required, then a comprehensive (2) Scoping is carried out. Scoping is a more in-depth approach to the project, this is where numbers, project data, observations, benefits, potential damages, e.t.c are recorded. Once this is done, a (3) Public consultation is carried out to inform the public and all those that may be potentially influenced by the decision.
The fourth and most important part of the assessment is the (4) Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which is the point when all the data gathered are thoroughly reviewed, potential alternatives to the project are compared and proposed, the severity of damage is translated and documented. This is followed by a (5) Review. Time to know if the work done is truly correct and trustworthy. This is the time to ask questions and make corrections.
With all the work done so far, there is need to provide a feedback to the public. Again, another (6) Public consultation is carried out. Here, the alternatives are shared with the public and the final decision is communicated. suggestions are also welcomed from the public and alterations may be made to the plan/project. If everyone is happy, a final (7) Conclusion is made.
Next time a project is going on in your community, remember you have the right to have access to the environmental impact assessment that was carried out and you have a say in deciding what the final options are.