|Conducting Environmental Impact Assessment in Developing Countries (UNU, 1999, 375 pages)|
|8. Writing and reviewing an EIA report|
|8.3 Preparing terms of reference for consultants or contractors|
It is a good idea to develop an initial TOR with the help of the project team and EIA advisor. To make such a formulation the team must visit the project site, carry out a scoping exercise, list all the alternatives, and identify issues of concern. (Alternatives generally refer to different project sites and options refer to possibilities in selecting production technologies, etc.) Unless such an exercise is performed, it is difficult to develop a well focused, balanced, and optimum TOR for the EIA study.
The EIA advisor should then be asked to step up the exercise from scoping level to IEE level, but only to scrutinize the alternatives and options. This step is necessary to arrive at a few potential alternatives and options which may need further evaluation. In this step, the project team which is responsible for the technical/engineering design of the project would play a very crucial role. In most situations, the latter is not done and hence "real alternatives'' and "real options'' are never produced.
For the examination of alternatives and options, some background information is needed on the environmental settings of the project sites, which is collected through secondary sources of information and site visits. Much depends here on the experience of the EIA advisor.
After the basic alternatives and options have been debated, on both the environmental and technical angles, a TOR for further studies is written. Here the project proponent may consider engaging the consultant with the help of the EIA advisor.
The EIA process that follows typically has two components. One is procedural and follows the table of contents and documents listed under the respective legislation. The second is analytical, where interpretations and conclusions drawn from the information collected in the procedural sequence are put to the best use, that is, to develop sound environmental management plans. It is important that this spirit of the EIA exercise is conveyed to the consultant. Many consultants follow only the procedural process to obtain the clearance for the project proponent, but fail to produce a workable and environmentally sound management plan to address the environmental issues. In fact, the latter is the principle objective of the EIA exercise.
To get the best results from the consultant, therefore, the project proponent needs to set several milestones of reports/workshops in the TOR to increase the interaction with the environmental consultant. In each of these interactions, the proponent should insist that the consultant comes for the meeting with specified data/results with its entire team and should ask that the company's project team is present. Eye to eye contact is most important here. The meeting should be chaired by the chief executive officer (CEO) of the company in assistance with the EIA advisor.
In many cases, the TOR for EIA are not specifically written and a reference is made to the various requirements of the EIA notification. The ultimate objective of obtaining environmental clearance is thus governing the TOR. Most consulting companies are familiar with filling up the EIA questionnaire, but translation of the questionnaire into an EIA study to develop an EMP is the crucial step.
One of the ways to guide the consultant for the preparation of the study is to provide a sample table of contents for the EIA report.
Many EIAs are performed by consulting firms under contract to environmental agencies or project proponents. The consultant proposes a statement of work in response to a request for a proposal which contains instructions or TOR. After negotiation of the scope, schedules, and price, a contract is executed. A good definition of a problem often provides much of its solution and reduces the cost of contract services. It is essential that the major environmental concerns be identified and a search for other likely consequences of development be specifically requested in the TOR. For competitively bid contracts, the consultant will seldom add tasks, for fear that the resulting costs will keep the firm from being awarded the job. During negotiations, however, additional studies may be suggested. Hence, the buyer must have an understanding of what is needed in order to avoid paying for unnecessary services. It is also important to request the form of analysis and presentation appropriate to the use of the EIA (i.e., extended benefit/cost analysis, comparative risk assessment, cost effectiveness).
The clarity and comprehensiveness of the TOR is a crucial step in determining the nature of the EIA report, as this is the final communiqué of the entire study to decision makers and the various stakeholders in the project. The EIA report is eventually a reflection of the requirements and studies specified in the TOR.
The technical contents of a TOR typically include:
· the objective of the EIA - what decisions will be made, by whom, a timetable, what kinds of advice are required, what is the stage of the project?
· components of the project - sites, technologies, inputs of energy, and materials anticipated;
· preliminary scope of EIA - should include geography, region, lifetime of project, externalities, and major anticipated concerns about environmental changes and consequences;
· impacts - major anticipated impacts on human health and welfare and on ecosystems;
· mitigation - mitigation measures possible, including reasonable alternative project designs for achieving the development objective;
· monitoring - estimated monitoring necessary for feedback of operations, for detecting environmental consequences, and judging whether mitigation measures have been implemented;
· type of study required (e.g., benefit/cost analysis, land-use plan, pollution control regulation, simulation model, comparison of sites or technologies, risk assessment);
· staff level of effort, skills required, cost estimate, and deadlines for completion of tasks.
The preliminary environmental assessment prepared by the project proponent should have most of the preceding information in qualitative form and may be appended to the TOR for guidance.
Non-technical requirements in the TOR include:
· stipulation of references and data to be provided by the buyer;
· frequency and subject of meetings and progress reports;
· opportunities for review and comment on draft reports;
· prior approval of changes in contractor personnel;
· payment schedules;
· liability insurance;
· printing, distribution of reports; and
· coordination requirements.