5-4 Scoping methods

The following public involvement methods are used in the conduct of scoping:

  • notification/invitation for public comment and written submissions;
  • consultation with the various stakeholders;
  • public and community meetings; and
  • issues workshops and facilitated discussion.

Although scoping is a distinct, early process within EIA, the significant effects continue to be re-interpreted throughout an EIA study, the decision-making process and project implementation and monitoring. Unforeseen issues that require further consideration may arise in any of these phases. The work undertaken for an EIA study on a particular issue (the impact of toxic effluent on aquatic species and human health, for example) may uncover further questions, some of which may become contentious. In some cases, earlier guidance may need to be revisited, for example relating to data collection and analysis or the criteria used to interpret the significance of effects. Ultimately there are no ‘right’ answers to these questions, just a succession of judgements that try to balance the available resources for the study (both time and money) with the legitimate concerns of the participants.

Possible roles in scoping of the various stakeholders in the EIA process
Stakeholders Possible Roles
Source: Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (1999)
Proponent/competent authority Know most about the proposal, and have a strongly developed view about the factors that will influence the site selection and other aspects of decision making. It is common for the proponent or the competent authority to have responsibility for scoping. The scoping process helps them to recognize the perspective of others, to consider alternatives and concerns of those affected, and to make changes to the proposal, which will address these inputs.
EIA administering body Generally establish and oversee statutory or procedural requirements for scoping. The requirements for scoping may cover the matters to be addressed, the people to be consulted, and the form of consultation. The administering body may issue Terms of Reference for the EIA, and/or review and approve the EIA report submitted by the proponent, checking it against the agreed scope.
Other responsible agencies Contribute relevant information about specific issues and matters within their jurisdiction. This information may include specific legislative requirements, policy objectives, and standards, technical knowledge and expertise, and experience with similar projects or local conditions. Certain agencies other than the competent authority also may have the role of providing licences, permits, approvals or leases. Knowledge of these requirements is essential at the scoping stage.
EIA practitioners and experts May act directly for the agencies involved or for the proponent as consultants retained for the EIA work, or they may function in an advisory or review capacity on behalf of scientific, NGO or professional bodies. Their involvement can be of particular value in providing specialist knowledge.
People affected by the proposal Have a major role in identifying concerns and issues and providing local knowledge and information. Their views should be taken into account in choosing between alternatives, in deciding on the importance of issues, and in identifying mitigating measures, compensation provisions and management plans. Affected communities may need help in understanding the proposal, its alternatives, and their likely effects, and in organising and articulating their concerns to those involved in the EIA process.
Wider community will also provide information and views that are relevant to scoping. This grouping includes those indirectly affected by the proposal, and local, national and sometimes international NGOs and interest groups. Further information on undertaking a dialogue with stakeholders can be found in Section 3 – Public Involvement.

By involving the public, scoping helps to build confidence in the EIA process. Often, the scoping process is the first major point of contact with the stakeholders who are affected by or interested in the proposal and the alternatives. It provides an important opportunity to inform them about the proposal and the EIA process, to understand their concerns and to set out the role and contribution of public involvement in decision-making. Experience indicates that where scoping responds to stakeholder and public inputs, even though it cannot always accommodate them, there is likely to be increased acceptance of the EIA and decision making processes.

July 27, 2006 Uncategorized — @ 4:58 pm

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