National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development

Prepared by the Ecologically Sustainable Development Steering Committee
Endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments
December, 1992
ISBN 0 644 27253 8

Environmental Impact Assessment
Part 3 Intersectoral Issues - Chapter 15

Challenge

To minimise the environmental damage associated with human activity by improving environmental impact assessment processes, particularly their consistency, transparency and comprehensiveness.

Strategic Approach

Governments will focus on improving the coverage and effectiveness of the EIA process and subsequent decision making process. In addition they will improve, by coordinated effort, the quality and use of the existing knowledge base in assessing the acceptability of environmental impacts in relation to the possible economic benefits and cultural, social and community values and services.

Objective 15.1

  • to ensure the guiding principles of ESD are incorporated into environmental impact assessment, with emphasis on clarity of application and process, community access and post-approval accountability; and to increase the level of consistency and certainty and avoid unnecessary duplication of the EIA process across the nation

Governments will:

  • continue to promote action under Schedule 3 of the IGAE which provides for the practical incorporation of the principles and objectives of ESD into the administration of the impact assessment process
  • ensure EIA processes in each jurisdiction are based on: clear guidance on the types of proposals likely to attract EIA, the level of assessment required, and the criteria for environmental acceptability of potential impacts; proposal specific guidelines; time schedules for all stages of development; public disclosure of information relating to a proposal, where this is not provided on a commercial-in-confidence basis; opportunities for appropriate and adequate public consultation; and development of conflict resolution mechanisms
  • finalise work by ANZECC on development of a general framework agreement between jurisdiction on the administration of the EIA process
  • promote greater recognition of the role of EIA processes in the overall impact assessment process (IA), which also covers assessment of cultural, economic, social and health factors

Objective 15.2

  • to increase the sensitivity of the EIA process, its planning and policy context and consequent decision making, to cumulative and regional impacts

Governments will:

  • enhance EIA processes by ensuring they include, where appropriate, assessment of environmental, cultural, economic, social and health factors
  • work within each jurisdiction to review the role of EIA within the broader approvals and decision making processes
  • work towards further developing a comprehensive data base to improve the quality and accessibility of relevant information and knowledge and to improve the economic and social analysis used in the EIA process