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EIA auditing to determine environmental management performance

Morrison-Saunders, A. (1996) EIA auditing to determine environmental management performance. Eco-Management and Auditing, 3 (1). pp. 21-25.

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Environmental auditing is an important tool for providing an account of post-development environmental impact assessment (EIA) activities. In the past much EIA auditing has focused on predictive techniques and prediction accuracy, which provide little information on the actual environmental outcomes. However, of central interest in determining the effectiveness of EIA is the extent to which the environment is managed and protected as a result of the EIA process as it is intended. A framework is presented for EIA auditing which focuses on the environmental management outcomes of projects that have undergone EIA. The audit methodology for determining EIA effectiveness focuses on several distinct EIA components: impact prediction; occurrence of actual impacts; and the management of potential and actual environmental impacts. These are examined with particular attention to impact and environmental management outcomes. The results are stored in a computerized database which can be used as an implementation record for individual projects that have undergone EIA or for the statistical analysis of large numbers of projects collectively to present an overall picture of EIA environmental management performance. This approach to EIA auditing has applications for project managers, EIA assessment authorities, policy-makers and academics alike. Some preliminary results of an EIA audit of six case studies in Western Australia are presented. These indicate that the EIA process has focused attention on significant issues. Correlation exists between issue identification and the implementation of environmental management actions irrespective of predictive accuracy. Some management activities have avoided impacts occurring. Many impacts have been responded to irrespective of whether they were predicted accurately or even considered in predictions. Overall, an effective environmental management regime was established by the EIA process utilized for the six case studies.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Wiley
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