A Guide to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) - The Fundamentals for Improving Public Participation

This Toolkit is not intended to provide legal advice and is a guide only. Please consult an attorney if you wish to pursue any legal avenues. .

The information in this Toolkit is generally based on the new EIA Regulations, enacted under the National Environmental Management Act (107 of 1998), effective from 1 July 2006. EIA Applications submitted prior to 1 July 2006 will be considered in terms of the old EIA Regulations published under the Environment Conservation Act (73 of 1989) (ECA), and are therefore not covered by this Toolkit. However, where an Authorisation has already been granted under the old ECA Regulations, the provisions of the new NEMA regulations will apply to the Record of Decisions (now called an Environmental Authorisation) issued under the old Regulations. The Records of Decision obtained under the old ECA Regulations will therefore be regarded as having been issued in terms of the new NEMA EIA Regulations.

This Toolkit is aimed at assisting the General Public in participating in the EIA process.

The Environmental Impact Assessment process in terms of the National Environmental Management Act —

  • Requires a Developer/Applicant to subject a listed activity to either the Basic Assessment or Scoping and EIA process, depending on the nature of the listed activity;

  • Requires a Developer/Applicant to take a hard look at the activity he/she intends to undertake and to consider the environmental impacts of the proposed activity/development and to consider alternatives and mitigation measures that will reduce those environmental impacts;

  • Provides the public with a meaningful opportunity to understand and comment on the proposed activity;

  • Provides the government decision-makers with important information to assist them in deciding whether to approve or deny the Application for Environmental Authorisation to proceed with the activity.

  • Interested and Affected parties the LEGAL RIGHT to participate in the EIA process. This Toolkit is aimed at assisting Interested and Affected Parties in understanding the EIA process and participating in meaningful ways.

The main stakeholders/parties involved in the Environmental Impact Assessment process are: the Applicant/Developer (the party requesting the authorisation); the Environmental Assessment Practitioner (the party managing the process on behalf of the Applicant); the Competent Authority (based on the outcome of the EIA process will either grant or refuse the requested Environmental Authorisation); and you, the Interested and Affected Parties.