Quality aspects of environmental impact assessment reports in the Free State Province, South Africa
South African Geographical Journal
Department of Geography, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein 9301, South Africa
There has been little empirical investigation of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure und practice in South Africa to assess compliance to EIA regulations, or performance towards achieving the objectives of legislation. This paper examines the quality aspects of EIA in the Free State Province, South Africa, by utilizing the disaggregate approach and applying it to a systematic sample of EIAs conducted in the Free State Province from 1997 to 2002. It was observed that socio-economic impacts are neglected: assessment methodology is highly subjective; there is a lack of specialist input and consideration of alternatives and public involvement is inadequate. The degree of compliance with regulations is however good, although there is a lack of integration of EIA findings into authorization decisions (as summarised in the Record of Decisions). It is therefore concluded that EIA reports in the Free State province conforms to South African regulations. In order to improve the quality of EIA reports, and thus its ability to act as a tool for sustainable development, it is suggested that more detailed guidelines or regulations are provided, or that the EIA process in South Africa reverts back to the 'traditional' scoping report, where scoping solely involves a thorough identification of issues. This will eliminate the inconsistencies found between normal scooping reports and "beefcd-up" scoping reports.
assessment method; environmental impact assessment; socioeconomic impact; Africa; Free State; South Africa; Southern Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa