Environmental Impact Assessment
By: María José Monteverde Suárez
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has become one of the main preventive instruments for environmental management. It is an administrative procedure for project control which is supported by technical studies and a process of public participation (Gómez and Gómez, 2013).
In this sense, the EIA is a process which addresses two complementary aspects. On the one hand, it establishes the legal-administrative procedure for the approval, modification or rejection of a project or activity by the administration and, on the other, it tries to prepare an analysis aimed at predicting the changes that the project or activity may generate in human health and the environment (Conesa, 2009).
Now, let’s see what the environmental impact assessment is. It is a document incorporated into the EIA procedure, which is formulated through interdisciplinary work and is intended to predict, identify, assess and correct the environmental consequences or effects on the quality of life of people and their environment which can be caused by certain actions (Conesa, 2009).
Likewise, the environmental impact study is the technical document that must be submitted by the project owner and on which the authorization or appraisal of environmental impact is determined. This study must identify, describe and assess in an appropriate manner and based on the peculiarities of each specific case, the notable foreseeable effects that carrying out the project would produce on the different environmental aspects (Conesa, 2009).
An environmental impact study contains, at least, the following information:
- Introduction to the project, including the promoting entity.
- General description of the project or activity and its foreseeable actions and demands over time.
- Linkage with every legal precept applicable to the project.
- Environmental inventory and description of the biotic, abiotic and socioeconomic environments in which the project or activity is to be developed.
- Identification and assessment of any environmental impact which the project may bring about.
- Proposal for prevention, mitigation and compensation measures linked to any negative environmental impacts identified. These must be proposed within an environmental monitoring program, which can include either all measures or specific programs.
- Assessment of the following scenarios: 1) situation without project; 2) situation with project and without environmental measures, and 3) situation with project and environmental measures.
The criteria used to carry out the Environmental Impact Assessment must be linked to the direct and indirect impacts on the population, fauna, flora, soil, air, water, noise and landscape (Espinosa, 2001).
Conesa Fernánez-Vitoria, V. 2009. Methodological guide for environmental impact assessment. Mundi Prensa Books. 800 pg.
Espinosa, G. 2001. Fundamentals of environmental impact assessment. Inter-American Development Bank and Center for Development Studies. 183 pg.
Gómez Orea, G. and Gómez Villarino, M.A. 2013. Environmental impact assessment. Mundi Prensa Books. 748 pg.