Environmental Impact Assessment Essay Answer

November 13, 2018
Author : Andy Johnson

Solution Code: 1EICF

Question: Environmental Impact Assessment Essay

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Environmental Impact Assessment Essay

Assignment Task

Critically evaluate the environmental impact assessment system in either an Australian state or country of your choice

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The overall effect on nature caused by humans is based on the needs and the advancement of available technology in the community. With the limited resources available to the ancient people from human and animal power, water, fire and wind energy and the simplest invented tools, they built some amazing monuments. During this entire transaction with nature, the environment was least disturbed when compared to today when such advanced tools are available in the industrial society (Thomas, 2017). Environmental impact system is a fairly new concept to consider human acts on nature and environment which strengthened with the increasing awareness and interest towards the environment with the existing government regulations, primarily giving importance to three factors which are pollution, public health and naturalists. Pollution impacts the overall environment by adding effects on air, water, soil and sometimes noise if the undergoing project is in a populated area (Major Project Development Assessment Process, 2017). Public health is of the primary concern and regulations are in place to separate the industrial setups from the residential setting. Naturalists are the people who were in favour of integrity of the environment and supported the idea of protecting and preserving the environment and were highly acknowledged by the government (Thomas, 2017).

The environmental impact assessment system is going through a lot of changes including the crowdsourcing the government has done to acknowledge other associated perspectives with it. This is handled by department of Planning and Environment and they handle state significant projects and identify areas where the environmental impact assessment can be improved (Beder, 2017). This department also works to understand the potential impacts of a proposal by evaluating a created environmental impact statement before a decision is made to approve it based on the received feedback. In Australian states, both state significant development and state significant infrastructure takes referrals of environmental impact assessment proposals while focusing on social, environmental and economic impacts (Chapter 3: EIA process, 2017). It comprises of the development of the project, establishing the reference terms for the environmental impact statement through Secretary’s Environment Assessment Requirements (SEARs), consulting with community and government agencies and then preparing of environmental impact statement, Displaying the environmental impact statement to the public, department assessing the project, submission acknowledgements and their responses, Delegate evaluation and compliance with monitoring of the projects under operation (Proposed changes - Department of Planning and Environment, 2017).

Constant improvement efforts in policy and legislation have been made by consulting from all stakeholders that include public, government agencies, community groups and various agencies for implementing any new guidelines which will create a steady framework on which the environmental impact statement would work, ensuring engagement with the stakeholders sooner and effectively, quality of the assessment documents should be improved, constructing a framework standard for the overall operation on the projects including their construction, monitoring the project that has been approved for the compliance after approval and increasing accountability of environmental impact assessment professionals that are engaged (Environmental Impact Assessment, 2017). There were many proposed changes that were setup for working on the above stated guidelines (Major Project Development Assessment Process, 2017). For promoting development of a steady framework to evaluate the environmental impact statement the proposed changes were to initiate a meeting between an applicant and the assigned department to finalize the idea of engaging with community and other stakeholders as early as possible (Beder, 2017). A changed framework for the applicant to establish the possible issues which should be addressed in the environment impact statement for Secretary’s Environment Assessment Requirements to understand and take actions.

For earlier and better engagement proposed changes included increased effort and sooner engagement for expanding the chances for contributed understanding of the issues that are relevant to the agencies community and the department. Also, includes visualising of the submitted report to explain the engagement approach in the preparation phase of environmental impact statement (Thomas, 2017). Adding to the intent of the applicants that they need to let community know of the considered views which were used and why some were not (Proposed changes - Department of Planning and Environment, 2017). Another purpose includes establishing the documents of environmental impact assessment that would be available for public viewing during all the intervals of the project (Environment assessments, 2017), describing the environmental impact assessment and how the community can contribute. To improve the quality of the environmental impact assessment documents, the proposed changes include the various components of the project that would be available at one place in an environmental impact statement to create easy access for the community and compliance officers to add to their understanding (Chapter 3: EIA process, 2017). Consent conditions, summary of the project and regular update of the project needs to be available in the description to include clarity and steady presentation of the possible issues that were raised and the responses that were given related to the issues.

Setting a framework standard for project conditioning includes proposed changes which establish a condition informing principle and a basic approach that will help to allow recommended consent conditions (Environmental Impact Assessment, 2017). This framework must satisfy the following conditions of being performance bases, it must be prescriptive and management based with more orientation towards being performance based than prescriptive or management based (Chapter 3: EIA process, 2017). The approach for peer review is improved by including the following proposed changes that talks about setting up of a steady method that allows independently done peer review and establishing a criteria to consider a peer review, what part of the review was appraised and if approved then what are the requirements that follow (Major Project Development Assessment Process, 2017). If there is any project change requirements post approval the changes that were proposed were availability of information to the stakeholders and the community about the changes in project during construction and its operation (Environment assessments, 2017). It discusses about the required help on when a project change must be contemplated as a modification and how the stakeholders would be engaged in these proposed modifications. Also, the actual need of updating the description of the project based on proposed modification.

Scoping is a very essential element of understanding the possible issues that needs to be investigated in the evaluation process of environmental impact assessment system. This process allows to understand what the report must contain and to what extent it calls for an action (Overview of the EIA Process, 2017). The main aims of this process are to find out the issues and concerns that may require considering, to support an effective environmental impact assessment process, to ensure sharing of the responsibility among the professional that they study and find out alternatives that would be based on in depth analysis, involve public participation and other stakeholders and to effectively save time. The process of scoping enables the team to appreciate idea with an effort involving the applicant, government, interested individuals and the organisations which are non-government (Overview of the EIA Process, 2017). Scoping can be used for consideration of several reasonable and alternatives that are practical, give information on the people that may be potentially affected by the proposal or by the alternatives in mind, to understand and find out the effects it would cause on environment, to understand the effect on the population of the possible environmental changes, appreciating the values of the environment quality by the groups or individuals that directly link with the environment for which the proposal or alternatives have been planned, to consider the possible expressed concerns and the effects that may originate related to the environment and they would be proceeded with, to establish boundaries that may call for another assessment in aspects of subject, time and space, to understand the requirement of any consultation or analytical methods that may be required for the further assessment, to communicate with the concerned stakeholders that may offer support in the required further analysis and finally, it contributes to determining the assessment terms for decision making to create the basis of on-going assessment (Chapter 3: EIA process, 2017).

There are many ecological concepts that drive the entire process of environmental impact assessment system which are based on the aspects that are the functional relationship of the focused existing ecosystem, the environmental capacity it possess for the social and biophysical functions, the flexibility the environment offers when stresses are imposed, the identification of the links that are weak and how the environment reacts when it is exposed to stress and also to understand the kind of biodiversity available in the system (Thomas, 2017). Scoping uses boundary identification that uses practical consideration to guide the entire process like, what are the most important issues, the gathered information is limited to the levels it can be managed and realistic measures of monitoring are in place or proposed (Environmental Impact Assessment, 2017). Non-governmental organisations play their role too which are considered too formal as they are not from the government, the professionals involved call for a preliminary environmental assessment that is a surface analysis of the possible problems because of the proposed project. They follow similar stages like the formal government environmental impact assessment process and are accepted to a great extent (Major Project Development Assessment Process, 2017). Life cycle analysis is also considered relevant as it assesses the complete view of the environmental impact by the proposed project in that area. It is mostly applied to processes which are more of industrial nature and impacts the eco-balance approach (Environmental Impact Assessment Improvement Project, 2017). This is applied in various contexts like the ecological product labelling, product marketing, the design impact of new products, purchasing decisions, strategies of development in future and possible design of instruments that comply with the environment.

Environment impact assessment in Australia is governed by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999. New South Wales and South Australia are common for the recent mining activities which are headed by the department of mines and petroleum in Western Australia and they publish more information than any other regulators and are known to get quarterly approvals sometimes on the same day of assessment submission (The EIA process | EPA Western Australia, 2017).. This suggests that the stage that involves decision making that doesn’t consume much time or the submitted data doesn’t properly evaluate the assessment and decision making stages. The setup by Department of Mines and Petroleum in Western Australia is mostly online for environmental impact assessment and its regulation by which they track the progress of approvals related to mining, licences of exploration in the area, lease for mining, clearing permits from the native who have established vegetation, licences for pipeline, environmental plans and any plans may require radiation management (The EIA process | EPA Western Australia, 2017). These approvals require a turnaround time of about 20-120 business days and are sent to many approval agencies. This example state and limit much information like the invested time in preparation of assessment reports and getting the approval decisions for the individual projects, the average time frame that is required for getting the approvals and assessments, the materiality of the delay when the supposed defined time duration is not met and the explanation of the reason(s) of delay.

The entire process is followed by setting up the offsets and conditions which are required for all major project applicants and are implemented in consistency with the regulatory objective of the proposal (Environmental Impact Assessment Improvement Project, 2017). These conditions discuss the steps to be taken to protect the social outcomes, environment and the heritage. Offsets are the activities in favour of environment that need to be done to balance the negative or residual effects of the proposed development. These can be a burden too in certain aspects if they are not actually targeted at the actual project impact or not practically compliant with or inconsistent. Offsets can cost the community unnecessarily sometimes if the objectives are not delivered due to the caused confusion of sought outcomes or opaqueness in the decision making process or inconsistency between the objectives policy and legislative requirements of the higher order. These problems then lead to the need for a framework to guide this step of the process and continue easily with the proposed plan.

Environment impact assessment system can be considered not in the best phase in Australia but can be considered progressively improving to a stage which is always better with appropriate learning (Environmental Impact Assessment Improvement Project, 2017). Greater emphasis on strategic decision making would support in the overall process of improvement and contribute to a widespread agreement through the planning systems across Australia. Strategic decision making can help greatly with saving time as complex issues would have been already resolved with focus on difficult decisions and it would also offer much clarity and understanding of issues related to the stated proposal with improved consultation (Proposed changes - Department of Planning and Environment, 2017).

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