|Conducting Environmental Impact Assessment in Developing Countries (United Nations University, 1999, 375 p.)|
|8. Writing and reviewing an EIA report|
|8.1 Writing an EIA report|
Report writing is an important part of any EIA study to enable communication of the findings of the study to a wide range of professionals, decision makers, administrators, and the general public. It is essential that the report be concise; the format and the presentation of the report may vary with EIA teams and practitioners.
Each individual EIA report should ideally be tailored to fit the circumstances of the project. However, it is useful to follow certain general guidelines to fit together the essential components of the study so as to generate a coherent advisory report helpful to the decision makers as well as the general public. A brief description of the typical contents of each section of an EIA report is given below.
Chapter 1 Introduction
This chapter would be introductory in nature and should provide a background of the project. It presents a review of the existing situation and demonstrates the need for the proposed project. Details regarding the composition of the EIA study team, the budget adequacy (in professional person months), work plan, and the report organization should also form a part of this chapter.
Chapter 2 The site and surroundings
The site and surrounding areas should be described in this chapter, in accordance with the prevailing guidelines. Published literature and educational and government agencies can be the major source of information for this chapter. This information can be augmented by field studies. The chapter should include the following information.
• A description of the location and layout, including a vicinity map.
• Existing land use patterns should be described. Emphasis has to be on existing agriculture activities, presence of forest land, habitations, etc.
• Existing water use in the area is to be identified.
• Demographic profile which includes population density, population centres, and employment statistics.
• Soil profiles, including identification of soil types.
• Hydrology and water quality, which should include surface and groundwater resources, hydraulic, and water quality characteristics. Water quality parameters can be based on drinking water quality standards. Data on groundwater quality and the profile of the groundwater table, etc., should also be provided.
• Meteorology and air quality; meteorological data such as temperature, rainfall, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and air quality data such as levels of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons, etc.
• Ecology; ecological data will include a description of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the area. Rare and endangered species, if any, will be identified.
• All the baseline information to be included in this chapter would be one year of monitoring data in the case of a detailed EIA.
Chapter 3 About the project
This chapter should describe the relevant systems of the proposed project. This should include the plant layout, inclusive of the drainage system, description of materials utilized and produced (mass balance), design criteria adopted, and the access ways to be used. Project information should be described in terms of the following activities, such as site preparation, construction, operation on site, transportation, welfare, and closure.
Amongst this classification, all major activities should be identified and shown in the form of a bar chart to convey the implementation as well as operation of the project. Any potential as well as non-routine or less frequent activities should also be paid attention to. Examples are the storage facilities, start-up, and shut down of the plant, etc.
Attributes of all the major activities should be described so as to appreciate their size and duration.
Chapter 4 Environmental effects of project operation
The anticipated impacts of the project operation on the environment should be described in this chapter. Impacts on air quality, water quality, agriculture, and aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems have to be stressed. A logical use of the information presented in Chapters 2 and 3 should form the crux of Chapter 4. EIA methods such as matrix and network, together with tools such as prediction models, may be useful at this stage. All direct and indirect (first order and higher order) impacts should be speculated at this stage. To assist in this exercise, tools of prediction modelling may also be used, if necessary.
Chapter 5 Evaluation and analysis of impact
The type of evaluation method or tool, for example, weighted/scaled matrix, network, GIS, index method, cost-benefit analysis, etc., used to quantitatively evaluate the impact due to the proposed action, should be highlighted in this part of the report. Expert systems may also be useful for this evaluation.
Chapter 6 Environmental management plan (EMP)
This chapter should describe in detail the implementation plan to be adopted by the proponent during plant operation for the mitigation, protection, or enhancement measures which are recommended in Chapter 5. The EMP documents should contain an implementation plan for each of the selective mitigative protection and enhancement measures. The chapter may be structured as follows:
• work plan;
• implementation schedule;
• manpower requirements;
• budgetary provision for EMP.
This chapter is the most crucial and significant part of the entire EIA report. It is therefore essential that this chapter be presented with precision and clarity. It might be useful in this case to identify issues of significance due to the project and specify the corresponding mitigation measures. Representation of this in a tabular form may be useful.
Chapter 7 Environmental monitoring programmes
The proposed monitoring programmes to be implemented to monitor environmental impacts due to the operation of the project should be described in this chapter. The programmes should be initiated prior to the commencement of the construction activities. The following sections have to be discussed:
• surface water;
• air quality;
• ecological - aquatic and terrestrial;
• socio-economic condition.
Guidelines for writing an EIA report are established by most countries specifically for the EIA system followed in their country. However, what has been suggested in the preceding section is a generalized set of recommendations. In addition to various countries, aid agencies also have established guidelines for the EIA of projects supported by them. Table 8.1 presents a comparison of the recommended contents required for an EIA report.