Environmental Assessment

Environmental Assessment:

An environmental assessment is a study needed to establish all the influence either positive or negative regarding one particular project. It will contain economic impact, technical evaluation, and social results that the project will bring. The environmental assessment will have to following:

  • Recognizes potential unpleasant environmental effects
  • Proposes measures to mitigate adverse environmental effects
  • Predicts whether there shall be important adverse environmental effects, after mitigation measures are implemented
  • Includes a follow-up program to check the accuracy of the environmental assessment and the efficiency of the mitigation measures.

 

Illustration:

An environmental assessment was carrying out before installing a petroleum products pipeline. Additionally to physical inspections, inquiries were sent to federal government agencies (Army Corps of Engineers for flood information, EPA, etc.), and state agencies (water quality board, historical commission,). Consequently of the EA, an EIS was not needed.

We can also say that this is a process of estimating & evaluating significant long-term and short-term consequences of a project or program on the quality of its location's environment. It too involved identifying manners to mitigate, minimize or eliminate these effects and/or compensate for their impact. An environmental impact assessment is prepared on the basis of an EA. Also referred as environmental evaluation.

The term environmental assessment comprises:

  • Environmental impact assessment (EIA) and
  • Strategic environmental assessment (SEA).

Environmental impact assessment is a process which is integrated to the process for the authorization of particular projects, especially industrial installations & infrastructure projects. While Strategic environmental assessment is an assessment process to be carried out as part of the elaboration of particular public plans & programs.

While the significance of impacts of a transportation project proposal is not sure, an environmental assessment (EA) is made to assist in making this determination. If it is found that significant impacts will result the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) which should immediately commence.

What is the aim of an environmental assessment?

The environmental assessment is a planning and decision-making tool. Its objectives assessment is to:

  • Minimize or avoid adverse environmental consequences before they take place; and
  • Integrate environmental factors into decision making.

When environmental assessment is undertaken?

An environmental assessment should be conducted as early as possible in the planning stage of a designated project in order for the proponent to be able to reflect the analysis in the proposed plans, including incorporation of mitigation measures to address adverse environmental effects.

What are the advantages of environmental assessment?

By considering environmental effects and mitigation measures early in the project planning cycle, environmental assessment can support better decision making and result in many benefits, such as:

A) Avoidance or minimization of adverse environmental effects

B) Opportunities for public participation and Aboriginal consultation

C) Increased protection of human health

D) Reduced project costs and delays

E) Reduced risks of environmental harm or disasters

F) Increased government accountability and harmonization

G) Lessened probability of transboundary environmental effects

H) Informed decisions that contribute to responsible development of natural resources.

Environmental Assessment Act:

Environmental Assessment Act needs an environmental assessment of any major public sector undertaking which has the potential for significant environmental effects. This comprises public roads, transit, waste water and storm water installations.

Environmental assessments determine the ecological, cultural, economic and social impact of the project. Environmental assessment is the main part of the planning procedure and must be finished before decisions are made to proceed on a project. The act does not apply to major private sector projects unless so designated by regulation.

The act exists to "provide for the protection, conservation, and wise management of Ontario's environment". The act mandates clear terms of reference, ongoing consultation, focused assessment hearings with all parties involved–comprising public consultation - and, if essential, referral to mediation for decision.

The Environmental Assessment Act also establishes a "Class Environmental Assessment" process to streamline the planning of municipal projects-including some road, water, and sewage and storm water projects.

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