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Do nothing – but do it well: experience from SEA practice

Morrison-Saunders, A. and Marshall, R. (2006) Do nothing – but do it well: experience from SEA practice. In: IAIA06 Power, Poverty and Sustainability: The Role of Impact Assessment, 26th annual meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment, 23 - 26 May, Stavanger, Norway.

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The “Do Nothing” concept is a long ingrained concept in impact assessment (IA) that is rarely questioned or challenged. “Do Nothing” provides the foundation for evaluating the condition of the existing baseline environment and the potential impacts of new proposals against other reasonable and practicable alternatives (including if the proposal were not to proceed). Thus it is equivalent to analysis of project need and whether the benefits of the project outweight its impacts. But what does “Do Nothing” mean in practice? Options range from “Business as Usual” (do whatever you are doing currently) to “Do the Minimum” (some basic new level of intervention) both of which can be costed and compared to proposed new activities and the “True Do Nothing” option (walk away from the activity and do absolutely nothing). This paper reviews the current status of “Do Nothing” in EIA and SEA practice, including how this interacts with the strategic purpose and nature of SEA. Are new demands and interpretations being placed on this well established IA concept? The paper examines practical application of the “Do Nothing” options in EIA and SEA using case studies from Australia and UK experience and considers how doing nothing can be done well!

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