Exploring post-authorisation follow-up and EIA effectiveness in South Africa : case studies from KwaZulu-Natal.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is recognised internationally as a tool for identifying and addressing the potential adverse impacts of a proposed development on the environment. The effectiveness of an EIA depends on the successful performance of the EIA follow-up. EIA follow-up aims to improve environmental protection during project implementation and provide feedback on EIA processes. However, minimal attention is often paid to the post-authorisation follow-up procedure which has compromised the effectiveness of the EIA process as a tool to enhance environmental protection. The aim of this study is to investigate follow-up activities and understand the implications for EIA effectiveness in South Africa by using case studies from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). This was achieved by exploring the procedural criteria, the substantive outcomes of follow-up as well as the participants’ perceptions on the EIA follow-up. By adopting a case study approach, primary data were collected through conducting in-depth interviews with participants in the follow-up process and accompanying Environmental Control Officers (ECOs) on monthly site audits, while secondary data were collected through audit reports and environmental management plans for three selected case studies. The case studies consisted of the Moss Kolnick Interchange Project, the Dickens Road Retaining Wall and BASF Chemical Plant in the eThekwini Municipality, KZN. Other data sources were used to explore the success of the EIA follow-up and its impact on the success of EIA. Through the follow-up procedure, mitigation measures were successfully employed and the environment was protected during development which contributes to the effectiveness of EIA. Overall, it is recommended that the regulator’s role in monitoring and enforcing compliance needs to be actively encouraged and supported.