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Clark (1994) suggests that public participation in EIA has a critical role to play in helping to integrate economic, social and environmental objectives, i.e. move towards more sustainable development by acting as a device to strengthen and increase public awareness of the delicate balance between economic and environmental trade-offs. It also safeguards against bad or politically motivated decisions. Public participation is necessary for minimizing or avoiding public controversy, confrontation and delay, and can make a positive contribution to the EIA process. The general objectives of involving the public at different stages in the EIA process were considered by a recent European Commission research project (EC, 1999) as given in the table.

Objectives of public participation during stages of the EIA process

Formal opportunities for public participation in EIA are defined in legislation. While rights of involvement in many countries are limited to opportunities for viewing and commenting on finalised reports, in principle, public consultation and participation can occur at every stage in the EIA process. The table summarizes the main objectives of public involvement at each stage of the EIA process, including a detailed description of these objectives (EC, 1999).

In brief, literature shows that there are a number of advantages of involving the public early on in the EIA process. If participation does occur early on then interaction between the public, developer and decision-making body should continue throughout the EIA process if the full benefits are to be seen.

Table : Summary of Objectives of Public Involvement in EIA

Stage of EIA process
Objectives of public involvement
Screening Identification of significant impacts
Scoping
  • Identification of public's interest and values
  • Identification of priorities for assessment
  • Encouraging public understanding of the proposed project
Assessment
  • The public can contribute local knowledge and values to the prediction, evaluation and mitigation of impacts
  • Improvement in quality and acceptability of EIA report
EIA Report Review Public contribute to evaluation of quality and acceptability of report
Decision Public comment on acceptability of project impacts
Monitoring Public evaluate impacts that occur and support project environmental management process

Legislation

Practically in all national systems EIA are compulsory for some investments and include some, which foresee:

  • Publication of the EIA report, and making it available to the public in a public place
  • Offering the public the possibility to get acquainted with the documentation and to give comments;
  • Collection of public comments and notes;
  • Accounting for the publics opinion while making the decision.

These requests offer “a necessary minimum” of requirements for public participation in the EIA process.

In some countries the initiator of the project will publish EIA report allowing comments of the public for a final version of the document (USA). In other countries publications of the EIA report and public comments are the responsibility of state organsations (Great Britain).

In most cases the "necessary minimum" appears insufficient for effectively accounting for public judgement on a project. Therefore, extension of possibilities for public participation is an important tendency in EIA procedures. In a number of countries the norms on mandatory public participation are spread over other stages of the process. For example in the Netherlands, public participation is mandatory, not only on the final EIA report, but also in the formulation phase of the report.

At an EU Level Environmental assessment is regulated by the Directive 85/337/EEC, as amended (known as 'Environmental Impact Assessment' – EIA Directive) as to individual projects (e.g. a dam, motorway, airport or factory) of by the of Directive 2001/42/EC (known as 'Strategic Environmental Assessment' – SEA Directive), when related to public plans or programmes. 

 

For further information:
Specific information with respect to Russia, law and environment

Environmental Impact Assessment in Turkey

Environmental Impact Assessment procedures have been regulated under a bylaw in Turkey since 1993, which covers screening, scoping, EIA report, consultations, final decision, monitoring & control under its scope. Since approval it has been revised in 1997, 2002 and 2003 (Official Gazette No:25318)– still in force).

The objective of the EIA bylaw is to set forth the administrative and technical methods and principles to be abided during the EIA process. The EIA procedures are conducted and monitored by the General Directorate of Environmental Impact Assessment, Permission and Inspection under the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning. 

For further information:
http://www.abgs.gov.tr/tarama/tarama_files/27/SC27DET_01.04.EIA.pdf
By-Law On Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) (in English and Turkish)
http://www.cedgm.gov.tr/CED/AnaSayfa/yonetmelikler.aspx?sflang=tr


Environmental Impact Assessment in Bulgaria

According to Bulgarian legislation, subjects of environmental impact assessment (EIA) are investment proposals likely to have significant negative environmental impact. Evaluation of environmental impact is made ​​at an early stage of implementation of an investment proposal. The Ministry of Environment and Water, in conjunction with the harmonization of Bulgarian and European legislation, has developed a list of activities subject to EIA. These activities are published in the Law on Environmental Protection - Annex 1 and Annex 2. In Annex 1, fall activities, which are compulsory EIA. These are activities associated with significant risk of damaging components of the environment. Annex 2 includes activities that require further assessment of the need for EIA.
The assessment of environmental impact is carried out by a team - registered experts and managers in the Ministry of Environment and Water. Usually one team conducting EIA consists of about 12-15 people.
The EIA procedure goes through several stages legally defined, which are required under Bulgarian legislation, as the public participation has a  crucial role in one of the phases. Once prepared the EIA report by the experts, it is subjected to public discussion. All stakeholders can express their views, opinions and recommendations during the public discussion session. The investor provides one month access to the EIA report and announces in the media where and when will be the public consultation and where interested parties can learn about EIA.
Based on the EIA report and the minutes of the public discussion, MEW / RIEW convene expert advice on making a decision on EIA. Possible EIA are:

  • Approve the implementation of the investment proposal
  • Do not approve the implementation of the investment proposal
For futher information: http://www.moew.government.bg/manage/index.html