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EIA as Regulation: Does it Work?

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Since its introduction into Danish planning in 1989, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been widely discussed. At the centre of the debate the question has been whether EIA has actually offered anything new and there has been a great deal of scepticism about the efficacy of the instrument. Although, in principle EIA offers a holistic and proactive methodology, it does not seem to lead to a more holistic and proactive regulation which covers more ground than traditional planning and environmental regulation. In an evaluation of Danish experiences, this study has looked more closely at the effects of EIA. Three types of effects on projects have been examined: changes occurring prior to the formal application; changes during the EIA process; and the mitigation measures that are demanded of projects. The general conclusion is that EIA does generate a significant number of changes to projects. In approximately half of the cases studied, modifications are made prior to the formal application. During the formal EIA process, modifications were made in more than 90% of the cases. However, most of these could be considered as minor. EIA is characterized by being based upon a broad concept of the environment. It was found that a progressive narrowing of the concept of environment takes place during the course of the EIA process.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Denmark

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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