The role and contribution of EIA implementation and follow up are shown in the figure below. It illustrates:
- the relationship of EIA implementation and follow up to other stages of the EIA process;
- the stages at which monitoring, auditing and evaluation are typically undertaken; and
- the results and benefits that can be gained from their use.
The figure also illustrates the importance of early identification of follow up requirements and measures, beginning at the stage of screening and scoping, and adding to them as new information becomes available. Increasingly, the preparation of an environmental management plan (EMP) provides the blueprint for carrying out EIA implementation and follow up (see Topic 7 â€“ Mitigation and impact management). An EMP should include a schedule of actions for this purpose, identify protocols for impact management in the event of unforeseen events and specify the arrangements for the use of surveillance, monitoring, auditing and other procedures.
EIA implementation and follow up can occur throughout project construction and continue into the operational phase, becoming part of a larger process of environmental management and performance review. The tools for this purpose have developed rapidly. In particular, environmental management systems (EMS) are now widely used by industry and business to manage the impact of their activities on the environment. The ISO 14000 series provides a framework of EMS principles, guidance and procedure, including environmental auditing, performance review and life cycle assessment or analysis. In the table below, these are grouped according to their primary use and purpose.
Some of these tools are still under development, and their use and even terminology varies. Already, however, there is an increasing recognition of the benefits to be gained by linking EIA preparation and implementation to EMS design and development; for example, initially through the transfer of information and subsequently through the use of standardised procedures. Looking ahead, EIA and EMS can be combined with other tools to take an integrated approach to the total environmental impact of the project cycle, along the lines indicated in the table below.
|Purpose||Examples of available tools|
|Internalising the environment in policy and planning||SEA, technology assessment, comparative risk assessment|
|Planning and designing environmentally sound projects||EIA, SIA, risk assessment, environmental benefit cost assessment|
|Environmental management of the impacts of an operating facility or business enterprise||EMS (ISO 14000 series), total quality environmental management (TQEM), industrial codes of practice|
|Eco-design of processes and products||Environmental design, life cycle assessment, cleaner production|
|Monitoring, audit, and evaluation of performance||Effects and compliance monitoring, site, energy, waste, health and safety audits, and benchmarking performance|
Guiding principles for carrying out the process of EIA implementation and follow up include the following:
- the project should be carried out in accordance with conditions of
- approval and the commitments made in the EIA report/EMP;
- surveillance and inspection should be a routine elements for this purpose;
- the scope of other follow up activities should be commensurate with the significance of the potential impacts; and
- monitoring, auditing and evaluation should be undertaken when
- potential impacts are likely to be significant,
- mitigation measures are untried or their outcome is uncertain, and/or
- new aspects of EIA process and practice have been introduced.
A comprehensive approach to EIA implementation and follow up would include many or all of the following steps and elements:
- inspect and check the implementation of terms and conditions of project approval;
- review the environmental implications of any changes that are required;
- monitor the actual effects of project activities on the environment and the community;
- verify compliance with regulatory requirements and applicable standards or criteria;
- take action to reduce or rectify any unanticipated adverse impacts;
- adjust the EMP, project specifications and related schedules as necessary;
- audit the accuracy of the EIA predictions;
- evaluate the effectiveness of the mitigation measures; and
- provide feedback to improve EIA process and practice in the future.
The elements of approach to EIA implementation and follow up differ from country to country. A variety of arrangements, as well as instruments, are used. In some EIA systems, provision for monitoring and other follow up activities is made in legislation, although it may apply only to certain project categories or take place under the permitting and licensing processes of regulatory agencies. In other cases, EIA follow up is a discretionary process, which is carried out on a project-by-project basis by administrative, contractual or informal means.
EIA implementation and follow up can be time consuming and expensive, and not all projects warrant full attention. A disciplined approach should be taken to planning this phase of the EIA process. Surveillance to oversee EIA implementation and ensure compliance with conditions of approval and regulatory standards is usually the bare minimum requirement. Other follow up activities should be determined on the basis of the needs of environmental management and the potential pay off for improving EIA practice in the future.
The scope of follow up should be determined early in the EIA process. A decision should be made as part of the screening and scoping process, when requirements are established for baseline studies and monitoring. In part, these decisions determine what can be done in EIA follow up, for example by establishing the information that will be available for effects monitoring and audit. Later, the scope of the EIA follow up programme can be refocused as more detailed information on potential impacts becomes available.
Key criteria for determining the need for and scope of EIA implementation and follow up include:
- the degree of confidence or uncertainty attached to impact predictions;
- the level of risk and damage if unanticipated impacts occur;
- the significance of losses if controls are not properly implemented; and
- the opportunity to gain information that will add value to EIA practice.
Aspects and issues that need to be considered when designing and carrying out an EIA implementation and follow up programme include:
- What is required? â€“ Identify the scope and components of the programme, and, if necessary, provide a justification and prioritise follow up actions.
- Who will carry out the activities? â€“ Indicate the roles and responsibilities of key agencies and individuals, noting how these will be coordinated and emphasising any research aspects that may have been added subsequent to the project approval, EMP or other core documents.
- How will the programme be carried out? â€“ Specify the resources, expertise and arrangements necessary to give effect to EIA follow up and to report the results.