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EIA decision-making and natural justice

Morrison-Saunders, A. and Early, G. (2007) EIA decision-making and natural justice. In: IAIA07 Growth, Conservation and Responsibility: Promoting Good Governance and Corporate Stewardship Through Impact Assessment, 27th annual meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment, 3 - 4 June, Seoul, Korea.


What is necessary to ensure natural justice in EIA decision-making? The concept of natural justice (or procedural fairness) extends a duty to decisionmakers to involve affected stakeholders in approval decision-making through meaningful consultation and participation. But what happens (or should happen) when new information enters the final approval decision-making process that affects the approval outcome? Should proponents and public stakeholders be privy to this information before the final (political level) decision is made? We review international EIA procedures and legal cases. Natural justice typically is not something that is prescribed in law but emerges from practice and customs. Decision-making by elected ministers is generally less transparent than that by government agencies, and expectations concerning natural justice vary accordingly. Balance has to be struck between efficiency of process and provision of endless opportunity for public participation in decision-making – provision of appeal rights along with full disclosure of the reasons behind a decision are important here. Ultimately decision-makers must judge when and how much information should be disclosed to stakeholders on a case by case basis, realising however, that a fair process will likely to lead to the best outcome in the most efficient way.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
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