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Common sense in Environmental Impact Assessment: it is not as common as it should be

Ross, W.A., Morrison-Saunders, A. and Marshall, R. (2004) Common sense in Environmental Impact Assessment: it is not as common as it should be. In: IAIA'04 Impact Assessment for Industrial Development Whose Business Is It?, 24th annual meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment, 24 - 30 April, Vancouver, Canada


Several aspects of environmental impact assessment (EIA) seem to be in need of improvement. Reviews of EIA practice, particularly by industrial proponents, have highlighted common shortfalls. We believe these would benefit from more “common sense,” which is not as common as it should be. For example, issue scoping usually ends up including far too many things, including issues that do not affect project decisions. Baseline data seem to be targeted more at collecting data than at understanding how systems (ecosystems, natural systems or social systems) function. Cumulative effects assessment seems intent on studying in far more detail than is appropriate a very large number of human activities rather than focusing on the more modest needs of decision makers. Follow up studies seem focused more on academic studies than on collecting information needed to manage projects. It is our intention to rant about these and possibly other examples of the failure of EIA to apply common sense, and in the process, to stir up discussion of how to improve EIA practices.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
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