Implementation and follow up are critically important but relatively neglected stages of the EIA process. Surveillance, monitoring, auditing, evaluation and other tools allow for ongoing assessment and review of the effects of the proposal, following final approval. They are used to identify the impacts that occur; check that these are within the levels predicted and required by legislation; determine that mitigation measures are properly implemented and work effectively; ensure the environmental benefits expected are being achieved; and provide feedback to improve future applications of the EIA process.
Until recently, relatively little attention was paid to the actual impacts that occurred during project construction and operation. Without appropriate implementation and follow up to decision-making, EIA becomes a paper exercise to secure an approval, rather than a practical exercise to achieve environmental benefits (see Topic 7 â€“ Mitigation and impact management). The purpose of EIA implementation and follow up is to ensure that the conditions attached to project approval are carried out and function effectively, and to gain information that can be used to improve EIA practice in the future.
By itself, this process cannot turn around an environmentally unsound project. However, it is critical to maximise the returns from the preparation of the EIA report and its consideration in decision-making. EIA implementation and follow up allow the measures and conditions attached to project approval to be fine tuned in the light of new information. When used systematically, they facilitate impact management, build continuity into the EIA process and help to optimise environmental benefits at each stage of project development.
Learning Outcomes of this Section
On successful completion of this Section, you will be able to:
- Demonstrate understanding of the key objectives of EIA implementation and follow up;
- Appreciate the role of environmental management and auditing in EIA implementation and follow up.