Introduction. Introduction of the project (nature of the project, location, size), details about the activity, project purpose and justification, investor, need for the project, previous study if any, possibility of cumulation with other project, alternatives of the project, time framework.
Approach and methodology. This section describes the process used to identify the potential environmental impact associated with the project.
Project description. This section describes in detail the various components of the project. Information is provided on the technical aspects of the project, general activities related to construction, operation, and decommissioning, work force requirement during construction and operation, waste/emission management, and safety.
Description of existing environment. This is necessary for two reasons:
• to determine which resources may be at risk from the proposed project (inputs and outputs of the project), and
• to provide a baseline for identifying environmental changes in the future.
This section describes the baseline conditions of the biophysical and socioeconomical environment in the area for each environmental component. The description of environmental conditions is based mostly on resources information gathered from the following sources:
• recent direct observations, inventories, consultations, and interviews in the project area;
• secondary sources such as published and unpublished survey reports, project investigating reports and official data reports;
• interviews with environmental resources specialists; and
• interviews with the government representatives.
In some countries, this section is closely related to assessment of present state of the environment and its capacity to accept more changes.
Valued environmental components. This section describes the process used to identify valued environmental components (VECs) which involves issue scoping and pathway analysis. The VECs are determined on the basis of perceived public concerns related to social, cultural, economic, or esthetic values. Generally, VECs are defined as those aspects of the ecosystem or associated socioeconomic systems that are important to humans. The components could include the following:
• components which may be important socially,
• components which may be essential to the food web, and/or
• components which may be a reliable indicator of environmental changes.
Specifically, VECs are species, habitats, environmental features, and resources that are particularly rare, unique, productive, indicator of environmental change, commercial, esthetically valuable, or essential to ecosystem function and integrity. They include environmental components, including social and economic components, which are identified as having scientific, social, cultural, economic, or esthetic value.
Environmental impact assessment, mitigation measures, and residual effects. This section consists of an assessment of potential impact resulting from the proposed project. The prediction of impact is usually separated into three main categories:
• Impact upon the physical environment;
• Impact upon the biological environment; and
• Impact upon the socioeconomic environment.
Further, these impacts are predicted for the preconstruc-tion/construction, operation, and the decommissioning/ abandonment phase of the proposed project. In addition, impact of the environment on the project has to be considered as well.
Current standard construction practice generally includes environmental protection measures that will mitigate many potential environmental concerns. Also potential impact associated with accidental events and potential cumulative effects has to be considered.
There are different methods of impact prediction, but they all result in decision-making whether or not predicted environmental effects are adverse, whether the adverse effects are significant, and whether the significant adverse effects are likely. The potential significance of the identified adverse effects is considered for each VEC according to the magnitude or severity of the effects, geographical extent, duration and/or frequency, degree to which adverse effects are reversible, and the environmental context. The environmental context relates to existing level of disturbance of the VEC and/or the fragility or degree of resilience to imposed stresses. Any activity that is predicted to lead to exceed a regulated or guideline value of a parameter is judged significant.
The likelihood of occurrence includes the probability of occurrence; or where insufficient data are available to permit the estimation of probability, the degree of uncertainty has to be considered.
It is important that during impact assessment, the 'precautionary principle' is applied. The precautionary principle can be defined as follows: ''When an activity raises threats or harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if certain causes and effect relationships are not established scientifically.'' This is to be applied to avoid irreversible losses.
In order to be considered a significant environmental impact with respect to the biological environment, a deviation from background must be judged to cause changes in the process or state within the bounded area resulting in a sustained depression of fitness or density below naturally occurring levels. Where such changes are predicted, mitigation has to be recommended, when possible.
Environmental management plan (EMP). The main parts of this section are protection, mitigation, and enhancement measures which are identified for the areas of environmental concerns of the project. Also the prescribed monitoring studies are part of the environmental compliance plan (ECP); EMP has to be agreed upon between the proponent and the governmental bodies.
The EMP should ensure, along with ECP, that the environmental commitments and recommendations are implemented in full. This begins by incorporating mitigation measures and other environmental considerations into the plans and specifications and then to continue overseeing how they are carried out during construction and operation.
The EMP is usually divided into three different programs:
• The Civil Works Management and Monitoring Program
• The Environmental Components Quality Management and Monitoring Program
• The Socioeconomic Impact Management Program
Comparison of different alternatives of the project as well as taking in account nonaction alternative References Glossary
Appendices. These include the results and reports of all studies, which were concluded as part of the EIA process.
The names of single parts of EIS may vary among countries, but generally the EIS has to contain all the above-mentioned information.
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