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An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an assessment of the possible impact, either positive or negative, that a proposed project might have on the environment. During an environmental impact assessment natural, social, and economic aspects are taken into consideration. An environmental impact assessment is performed to ensure that decision makers consider the ensuing environmental impacts to decide whether or not to proceed with the project.

The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an environmental impact assessment as “the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating, and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made.”

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Purpose of Environmental Impact Assessments

The purpose of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is providing a recognized and replicable process to identify the potential environmental effects of certain development types. The findings of an environmental impact assessment are contained within an Environmental Statement (ES). The environmental statement is then used to assist authorities in their consideration of the development’s effects on the environment. It thus plays an important role in their decision on whether a development should be approved or not.

Importance of Environmental Impact Assessments

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an important system developed to assess development projects at different levels. After the completion of an environmentalimpact assessment, precautionary and polluter pays principles is applied to prevent, limit, or require strict liability or insurance coverage to a project, based on its likely harms. Environmental impact assessments are more often than not also very controversial.

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