EIA research

5th May 2016

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John Willmott-French

Latest research in environmental impact assessment.

Making sense of significance

In Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal journal, Megan Jones from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, and Angus Morrison-Saunders from the research unit for environmental science and management at North-West University in South Africa examine impact significance in EIA. They say that, although determining impact significance lies at the heart of assessment, conflict and misunderstanding around the concept are common. The two academics developed a framework of four essential components of significance and tested these against the EIA approach used in Western Australia. The four components were: an operational framework for significance determination that applies throughout EIA; attention only on significant issues; the term significance to be specified and applied consistently; and significance determinations must be transparent to all stakeholders. They found Western Australia generally met all four, but identified some areas for improvement. These included the need for better guidance to encourage the adoption of a more consultative approach to determining relevant environmental factors and objectives, and to distinguish between terms used for significance in EIA documentation.


Assessing the impact of roads

A methodology for the ecological impact assessment of road projects is proposed in Environmental Impact Assessment Review. The approach, developed by researchers at Comenius University in Slovakia, consists of three stages: scoping of a buffer circumventing the proposed road to determine the area for impact prediction and evaluation; assessment of ecological resources, based on the importance of previous information and its vulnerability, to produce a map of the ecological impact zone; and impact assessment, which evaluates the significance of ecological impacts by applying specific criteria, such as duration, reversibility, magnitude, size and road ecological impact zone significance.



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