Methodologies used for determining impact significance and the implications for EIA effectiveness in South Africa : case studies from KwaZulu-Natal.
The evaluation of impact significance is an important but less understood component of EIA theory and practice. Studies of EIA effectiveness, in terms of impact significance, reveal marginal to poor performance levels in determining impact significance in impact evaluation. A review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) literature in South Africa found that there is very little information that addresses the effectiveness of the EIA in South Africa. The Lee and Colley review method was adopted to review impact significance assessment methods in ten Basic Assessment Reports (BARs). In addition, questionnaires were completed by respondents in the EIA field to obtain their perspectives on the impact significance assessment methods and the effectiveness of the EIA process. The study found that the EIA process overall is considered as being moderately effective and the method of impact assessments used by EAPs do not fully comply with the relevant environmental legislative requirements (i.e. the 2010 EIA Regulations) and guidelines (i.e. DEAT Guideline Series 5). This in turn has an effect on the overall effectiveness of the EIA process in terms of impact significance. Recommendations are provided to improve the impact significance assessment methods which can ultimately contribute to EIA effectiveness.