The quality of environmental impact statements : a review of recent developments
Moloney, Dermot G.
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Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was first introduced to Ireland by the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1976. Over the past twenty years a number of legislative developments have arisen and EIA is now recognised as an intrinsic part of national environmental policy. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is the single most tangible component of the EIA system and inmost jurisdictions the document is widely accessible. In considering the efficacy of EIA, a great deal of attention has been given to the quality of EIS documentation. This study reviews the literature pertaining to the quality of EISs submitted in Ireland and in other jurisdictions. The concept of the "legal minimum standard" for an EIS is considered and recent and impending developments in EIA are addressed. The study evaluates the quality of a sample of eight EISs which were submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licence applications. Each EIS was evaluated by means of a "Review Package" which was developed in the UK. The Review Package has been previously used to evaluate a representative sample of 40 EISs which were submitted in Ireland up to April 1992. Comparisons are made between the evaluations of the eight EISs and the results of the earlier (1993) study. It is concluded that the quality of EISs has substantially improved. However, the author has identified significant difficulties with the application of the Review Package. These difficulties are discussed in conjunction with the obvious limitations pertaining to the interpretation of the author's findings. The study contributes to the body of knowledge pertaining to EIA. In particular, it addresses the notion of quality as an essential element of the EIA process. Recent and impending developments in EIA are considered and a series of conclusions and recommendations are made.
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