Environmental Impact Assessment

Chapter One

The Research Problem

Post decision monitoring and the follow-up are the significant features of the Environmental Impact Assessment process. According to Nooteboom (1999), monitoring is the collection of data on the temporal and spatial characteristics and operations of the environmental and economic variables related to the development functioning (“Environmental” 1999). Monitoring can tangibly contribute to the project management in several ways during the operation, construction and decommissioning of development (Cameron 2005). The monitoring process includes the impact auditing; the commitment to the mitigation measures; the data base creation; and the identification and correction of impacts. In addition, monitoring assists in the provision of information on the characteristics and operation of variables on the magnitudes and occurrence of impacts. Monitoring can be applied as an early warning system that identifies the harmful trends within a locality. It can also be used in minimizing the public distrust of the proponents as well as the regulatory authorities (US 1991).

Despite its influences on the optimal project establishment, design and development, the process of monitoring is one of the neglected components in the Environmental Impact Assessment. The environmental impacts emerging during the construction and operation stage tend to be given a modicum of attention by the proponents. This procedural deficiency can be attributed to the non-mandatory nature of monitoring (Great 2006). Most developers have associated monitoring with the high cost, and an inadequate coordination between the relevant agencies and the organization concerned. Some other impediments to monitoring are that the project support condition may not have the process of monitoring attached to it; the deficiency in the public environmental reporting through developers; deficiencies within the environmental impacts; and the uncertainty and lack of information. The lack of a structured monitoring framework in a clear timeframe for the data collection on the relevant operational and environmental parameters is the key hindrances to monitoring (US 2000).

Hypothesis and Objective

The current work purposes to establish whether the certification of the ISO standard can influence, hence, providing the necessary mechanisms in addressing the inherent deficiencies within the monitoring phase. The various hypotheses in the current study have been described in the following sections. The first hypothesis is that for monitoring to be effective, the process of monitoring should be given a sufficient attention with enough and improved resources and the capacity commitment. The numbers of contextual factors were noted as significant to a successful implementation of monitoring. The resources and the capacity have been identified as the determining factors together with the institutional arrangement and the regulation, methods and approaches as well as the project design. The importance of having the sufficient assistance in terms of capacity and finance by the proponent and regulators is important. Moreover, this remains as a guarantee for the improved environmental protection by the proponents. The proponent, however, often represents monitoring, as an expensive exercise. Therefore, monitoring is really considered a significant priority. Without defining and instituting the appropriate monitoring the mechanisms clearly identifying the priorities, the decommissioning process can be a costly work in terms of monitory and time resources needed. Nevertheless, as the first party follow-up, the proponents have the obligation to undertake the monitoring by decommissioning, whether it is the impact or implementation management or impact monitoring. In several cases, such duties are specified in the license or approval conditions. For the control agencies, it is necessary that the successful enforcement and monitoring the capability are in place being inevitably with required resources (US 1998).

For the other hypothesis, decommissioning effectiveness is conditional on obtaining the well and clearly defined roles and the responsibility within and between the organization and different necessary authorities. It has been identified that monitoring (auditing) is not only about the first party follow-up, but also it involves a joint responsibility with stakeholders. The relevant organizations, the participation of which may ensure that there are some levels of confidence in monitoring, extent from the Environmental Impact Assessment regulator or other government agencies to the stakeholders or local communities. In most states, where monitoring has been made mandatory, decommissioning by relevant authorities is for sure guaranteed (“Unpublished” 1991).

The significance of instituting the framework for the coordinated and collaborative approach for a workable monitoring is apparent within the context of various stakeholders being involved. However, because of differing degrees of monitoring to be undertaken, there is a need for checks and balances that should be outlined. There is habitually, however, some difficulties in the implementation of a monitoring plan where the proponents are not needed to specify the monitoring of the EIA reports.

This can only be compounded where there is no any regulatory prerequisite for the monitoring process, since there is no obligation within the organization in ensuring that the monitoring takes place. Considering that most monitoring systems are regulated under several sets of legislation entailing the questions of association between the relevant authorities and the developers.

Regarding the third hypothesis, the efficiency of monitoring through decommissioning can only be identified through the determination of the appropriate degree of checks of impacts, performance and environmental parameters in the reference to a sound management system and a practicable management program. It has been identified that a general inclination for the developer is not to integrate the environmental management plans within the EIS (i.e., the environmental impact statement) seems as an obstacle to monitoring. As this has been before, there is a problem within the establishing the connection between the environmental Impact Statement, the implementation of the project and decisions by the commission. Without the provision of an adequate attention to the connection through an effective management system, the supporter will never be in a position to assess the appropriate degree of checks or monitoring needed. Accordingly, whether it is feasible to address the lessening measures as proposed by the EIS may not be established.

According to Sadler, it is not significant for all the monitoring processes across the projects to be similarly detailed and comprehensive. Instead, a set of principles should be applied in the determination of level of the monitoring needed to be founded on the EMP. Sadler (1996) suggested that monitoring should be based on the principle of degree of uncertainty in the prediction and analysis, the level of unfamiliarity to mitigation measures, the level of complexity of the expected impact, and the level of risk where the controls are poorly implemented (None 1998).

Capacity and cost that is available are amongst the influential factors being undermining the level of the investment, spatial extent, and timeframe for monitoring.

The Objectives of the Current Study

(a)To unearth the opportunities whereby the environmental monitoring process is enhanced through the necessary resources and capacities.

(b)To identify the appropriate management structure through which the responsibility and roles for decommissioning and limitation of resources are coordinated, optimized and maximized.

(c) To identify the means through which the cost of decommissioning are affordable depending on the management systems and programs.

Significance of the Research

Neglecting the environmental impact assessment in the process of implementation of monitoring in a project has to a greater extent undermined its significance as a tool for enhancing the project management. These adequate connections between the EIA and the auditing, especially in the reference to projects, are negating the environmental management with the questions regarding the significance of mitigation measures. After evaluating the roles played by the EMS and the EIA within the project phases, Ridgeway stated that while the EIA is relatively effective in informing the decision-making process, it has failed to fulfill the requirement to steer beyond a prediction, assessment and planning, and to assume a practical environmental management tool that helps in daily operations (None 1998).

The importance of the current study has been founded on Ridgeway’s conclusion. Therefore, its rationale is to integrate decommissioning in the company’s management system as well as the operational procedures as an overall corporate strategy. There is a weighty emphasis on the ISO 14001 in the improvement regarding its management processes and environmental activities haing the significant implication for auditing. In general, the current research is endeavoring to highlight the opportunities where the projects implement some environmental measures, while seeking to provide the lacking dimension connecting the EIA and auditing (Agra 1997).

Chapter Two

Decommissioning as an Integral to the EIA

Introduction

The purpose of the Chapter two is to address the inadequacy of the EAI in making the monitoring process an important progress within the process. Some descriptions of concepts of auditing are attempted before the examination of the relationship with some other environmental management tools and the factors, through which they are closely linked to.

The Concept of Environmental Auditing

Auditing is the collection of data through both space and time on the characteristics and operations of some biological, physical and socioeconomic variables that are related to the development. There are several forms of auditing that may be applied in the process of collecting the significant information regarding the project performance parameters and environmental impacts. According to Sadler (1996), there are three distinct forms of auditing that include the baseline auditing, the impact or effective auditing, and the compliance auditing. The baseline auditing is associated with the decommissioning phase; the impact auditing and compliances auditing are known as decommissioning. The other forms of auditing that occur during the project development are the inspection and surveillance (Millichamp 2002).

Designing an efficient auditing program depends greatly on the range of factors. According to Dipper, since there is a complexity in auditing, it is fundamental that the data gathered should be applied within a structured framework. The monitoring framework is supposed to pave the way for the relevant administrative timeframe and mechanisms required in the process of making the repetitive evaluations and measurements of the environment and the parameters based on some specific requirements (Insight 1992).

Auditing, Capacity and Resources

The capacity and finance are the significant conditions for the effective auditing of the daily operations of companies. This is applied not only in the development of supporters, but also to the agencies of regulatory. According to Dipper (1998), the organizational and commitment resources to the auditing play a significant role in the attainment of some long-term objectives in the environmental management. However, it is more advantageous for companies to show their competence and preparedness in the areas for various reasons. Because of the ability of auditing to highlight the existing behavior in the variables being audited, this has assisted in the process of detecting the unfavorable transformation earlier. The auditing information has been used as a warning system in identifying the harmful trend in the locality, therefore, allowing for the necessary action to be assumed before the deteriorating situation is going to be expensive to handle (Nemmers 1998).

The database developed from the undertaking auditing is usually used in resolving the complaints through the stakeholders or public that, in turn, may enhance the credibility of the supporters and environmental impacts on the assessment process (“NB” 1997).

The institutional obstacles and restrictions to the monitoring have been highlighted by a number of commentators, including Dipper et al. (1998). In terms of resources and organizational commitments, developers and investors are rarely supportive of auditing due to the substantial time, amount of money, expertise and manpower being involved. Dipper (1998) also made a similar observation about the competent authority organization adding the scarce resources so demoting the EIA follow-up performances. This has made their effectiveness becoming neutralized. The developers’ discernment, which auditing adds to the financial workload, sheds the light on negative techniques of auditing (Great 1993).

Auditing and Project Design

The EIA has been identified to have more influence on the process of coming up with a designing stage of project than in the decommissioning process. Often the process of designing the project is based on the specific criteria that encompass the consideration as a scale and form of the proposed project, the site of project, and the implementation processes involved being integral to the screening of decisions (Enform 2005). The significances of the project design to auditing are obvious in its heavy influences on how the impacts on the evaluation and prediction are performed. For instance, considering the facts that the effectiveness of auditing impacts are connected to the predictions being in the environmental impact statement, all projects designed may effectively impact on auditing the outcomes (Morimoto 2004).

The obvious modification in the designing of project in the cycle through the consent of decision is one of the main problems that are encountered in the EIA. As far as the auditing is concerned, these changes in the project design will make its performance more complicated due to the inconsistencies between a project implementation and the EIS. Such alterations in the design of project will not only invalidate the prediction of impacts, but they will make this hard to efficiently and effectively perform any audit as the prediction can no longer be relevant under such conditions. While the further evaluations dictated through transformations that could be adequate to make the new assessments, these ones anyway are always entertained in practice (None 1998).

Chapter Three

The ISO Environmental Management System

Introduction

The main principles strengthening the ISO environmental management systems’ standard will be evaluated in the current section.

Concept and Principles

The ISO series of the standards has been initiated through the BCSD. The initiative to the development of international principles on the environmental performance that culminated into the ISO standards started in 1992 during the earth summit for the environmental development. The particular one regards to ensure a harmonized and coherent approach to management in protecting the environment by the companies globally considering the impetus for the idea. The ISO environmental management systems are the first ones in the series of ISO, among others. The ISO was established in 1996 and modeled on the environmental management systems standards, the Eco management, and the audit scheme (Great 1998).

Auditing and Measurement

The element of auditing and measurement is concerned with the recording of information to assess the EMS activity in terms of the attainment of targets and objectives and the effectiveness of the operational control. The ISO makes the element of auditing an obligation for organizations to maintain and establish measures in a documented nature to measure and monitor the main characteristics of activities and operations that may have a key impact on the environment (Ukaea 1998).

The instituted documented procedures allow the organization to assess the levels of compliances with the developed necessarily environmental law and regulations. The significant rules of procedures are those that help the companies to determine the efficiency of operational regulations, making sure that the allocated objectives and the targeted guide of the environmental management system execution and necessary legislations requirements have been regarded.

Chapter Four

Methodology

Introduction

This section covers the research methodology that has been adopted in the present dissertation. The purpose is to provide the insight into management aspects of study, and how it has been applied. The research techniques and approach used in gathering the required information and their limitations have been highlighted in the connection to how the analysis of data has been conducted.

Research Strategy

There are several factors that influence on the strategy used in any research. Data, time and financial resources available have the significant importance in designing the present research. The research will be based on a combination of reviews of documentary and unstructured interviews of people. The research work plan is incorporated to assist in the coordination and allocation of scarce resources.

Documentation Reviews

From the two techniques applied, the considerable emphasis has been placed on the reviewed literature for the collection of required data. The choice to base the current research on documents has been carried under few necessary reasons. Firstly, since the research is a small scale, the suitable strategy corresponding the scope and nature should be employed.

The factor of time and space plays a significant role in the current research. Accordingly, the possible benefit of the secondary analysis is to provide the economy of time resources has been explored. As the research timeframe within which the research is completed seems to be inadequate, the literature provides the best chances or methods in conducting the research. The availability of the massive amount of data regarding the matters pertaining to the subject matter has assumed an important part in adopting the approach. Without the relevant and adequate information, the review of documents is impractical and may not be worthwhile.

Interview

Interviews that cover the major informants regarding certain matters that may not be put into the perspective from the document reviewing will be conducted using an unstructured form of interviews. The interviews will be conducted at the interviewees’ place of convenience according to the pre-arranged schedule, which may be comfortable to both parties. The researcher opts for the eye-toeye and unstructured interview, since it has the potential of producing optimal resources, and due to the immediacy of the subject of research. Because this form of data collection involves a close interaction of the interviewer and the interviewee, to the extent of allowing the matters to be discussed in details, the responses obtained are informative. The main points of interview will be recorded in the notes taking during the interview (BHP 2007).

Chapter Five

Discussion of Results

Auditing through decommissioning as highlighted in the section 2.3 is hampered due to uncertainty and restricted information and the lack of information within the EIS. The deficiencies can be connected with inadequacies within the scope of the baseline description of environmental impact identification, the evaluation of magnitude of effectiveness and impacts of the lessening measures. While auditing is inconvenienced through the shortcomings, the inadequacy of a proper explanation between the consequences and the causes in the environmental impact system is for further complicating the situation. The attempts to adapting the scope in the EIA serves as the alternative methods of improving the auditing may be researched further.

Chapter Six

Conclusion

The ISO provides an overarching structure and management framework that is required for an effective environmental impact assessment follow-up to take place. Decommissioning may be integrated successfully with the ISO auditing considering that its existing etiquettes, as an environmental controlling tool, will be adapted (Herrmann 2007). As a dynamic and flexible tool, where its application can be adapted to fit the given company’s situation, this is the area where auditing may capitalize. As seen, there is an overlapping relation between the decommissioning and the result of auditing.

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