Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment


An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is an assessment of the possible positive or negative impact that a proposed project may have on the environment, together consisting of the natural, social and economic aspects.

The purpose of the assessment is to ensure that decision makers consider the ensuing environmental impacts when deciding whether to proceed with a project. The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an environmental impact assessment as "the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made." EIAs are unique in that they do not require adherence to a predetermined environmental outcome, but rather they require decision makers to account for environmental values in their decisions and to justify those decisions in light of detailed environmental studies and public comments on the potential environmental impacts of the proposal.

Environmental Impact Assessment study (EIA) is thus a procedure that ensures that the environmental implications of decisions are taken into account before the decisions are made. Environmental assessment can be undertaken for individual projects, such as a dam, motorway, airport or factory, or for public plans & programs.

The common principle of an EIA is to provide a document / data / tool that will save costs on environmental areas, caused by latter impacts derived by such projects.

EU rules on EIA are the Directive 85/337/EEC and the Directive 2001/42/EC (known as 'Strategic Environmental Assessment' – SEA Directive), for public plans and programs. The EIA studies are considered a crucial tool for sustainable development and are widely accepted and required for most international projects especially where international promoters and financing is involved, from sources such as World Bank, UN, etc.