Environmental Assessment (Environmental & Earth Science)

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Environmental Assessment

The International Association for Impact Assessment has defined environmental assessment (or environmental impact assessment) as “. . . the process of identifying the future consequences of a current or proposed action.” Such assessment brings into consideration the possible impact (positive or negative) that proposed actions may have on the environment and include natural, /socio and economic considerations.

Environmental assessment is a process that involves evaluation of the environmental effects of an undertaking including its alternatives. There are three levels of analysis depending on whether or not an undertaking could significantly affect the environment. These three levels include: categorical exclusion determination; preparation of an environmental assessment/finding of no significant impact; and preparation of an environmental impact statement.

At the first level, an undertaking may be categorically excluded from a detailed environmental analysis if it meets certain stipulated criteria previously determined as having no significant environmental impact.

At the second level of analysis, a proposer prepares a written environmental assessment to determine whether or not an undertaking would significantly affect the environment. If the answer is no, the makes a finding of no significant impact. This finding may address measures that a proposer will take to reduce (or mitigate) potentially significant impacts. If the environmental assessment finds that the environmental consequences of a proposed undertaking may be significant, an environmental impact statement is prepared by the proposer.

An environmental impact statement is a more detailed evaluation of the proposed action and its alternatives. Stakeholders in the proposed undertaking may provide input to the preparation of an environmental impact statement and may comment on the draft environmental impact statement when it is completed.

In some instances, if a proposer anticipates that an undertaking may significantly impact the environment, or if a project is environmentally controversial, the proposer may choose to prepare an environmental impact statement without having to first prepare an environmental assessment.

Editor's Notes

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1 Comment


Victor Krehovetsky wrote: 05-19-2011 21:52:45

The Directives on Environmental Assessment aim to provide a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation of projects, plans and programmes with a view to reduce their environmental impact. They ensure public participation in decision-making and thereby strengthen the quality of decisions.