An assessment of the status of environmental impact assessment follow- up in KwaZulu-Natal.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a formal process, which provides valuable information concerning the potential environmental consequences or impacts of proposed development plans and actions. EIA, therefore plays an important role in aiding the decision making process and has been adopted worldwide as a predictive evaluation tool. Once the ElA has been conducted and the possible environmental impacts established, thorough recommendations for mitigation are usually made. However, there is often no ElA follow-up (monitoring, post-auditing, evaluation and communication) to ensure that the mitigation measures or the recommendations revealed by the EIA are put into practice. EIA follow-up is a vital procedure, which if effectively conducted, ensures that negative environmental impacts are kept to a minimum and facilitates sustainable development. The main objectives of this research were to assess the status of ElA follow-up in KwaZuluNatal (KZN), to establish possible reasons for shortcomings in the area of ElA follow-up in KZN and to develop and discuss a number of potential models of ElA follow-up, in order to make recommendations for future practice. This dissertation includes a theoretical review of the concepts of sustainable development and Integrated Environmental Management (IEM), together with a comprehensive assessment of the role of ElA follow-up. Fifteen environmental consultants from KZN, together with five consultants from the remainder of South Africa. and a number of other leading ElA practitioners were formally interviewed in order to ascertain a greater understanding of the current status of EIA follow-up in KZN. The results from these interviews revealed that ElA follow-up is a neglected component of ElA and IEM. There are, at present, a number of barriers or constraints to effective EIA follow-up practice in KZN. which were thoroughly examined in this dissertation. There is also an apparent confusion as to who is responsible for conducting and policing EIA follow-up in KZN. The KZN regulatory authority and leading conservation body were also interviewed in order to gauge their understanding of ElA follow-up and its status in KZN. From the research four potential models of EIA follow-up were presented, each highlighting a different way in which ElA follow-up may be conducted, especially in the different sectors of development. This dissertation recommends that although there is no one comprehensive model or way in which EIA follow-up should be undertaken, the partnership approach to EIA follow-up is the most effective way of ensuring follow-up and facilitating sustainable development in KZN.