Assessing the utility of environmental factors and objectives in environmental impact assessment practice: Western Australian insights
Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal
School of Environmental and Conservation Sciences, Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch WA, Australia; School of Environmental Sciences and Development, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Environmental factors and objectives are formally identified during the scoping stage of environmental impact assessment (EIA) to structure and focus individual assessments. Environmental factors are broad components of the environment, while objectives set the desired outcome for a specific factor. This research assesses the utility of environmental factors and objectives in EIA practice based upon a combination of literature review and interviews with 21 EIA practitioners from Western Australia. Further to providing focus and structure for EIA, practitioners also use environmental factors and objectives for decision-making throughout the process. The majority of practitioners also note that factors and objectives are value adding and useful to their EIA practice. Due to their inherent subjective natures, interviewees noted a lack of consistency regarding how to meet the objectives and challenges in determining the significance of impacts on a factor. Identified opportunities to enhance use of objectives and factors in EIA included provision of more guidance, especially criteria or standards to apply and improve knowledge sharing between EIA stakeholders. © 2014 IAIA.
decision making; environmental factor; environmental impact assessment; stakeholder; Australia; Western Australia