What is Environmental Impact Assessment?
The aim of the environmental impact assessment is to assess the overall impact on the environment of development projects proposed by the public and private sectors. The objectives of environmental impact assessment are:
To examine and select the best from the project options available;
To identify and incorporate into the project plan appropriate abatement and mitigating measures;
To predict significant residual environmental impacts;
To determine the significant residual environmental impacts predicted; and
To identify the environmental costs and benefits of the project to the community.
Why do we need EIA?
EIA is essentially a planning tool for preventing environmental problems due to an action. It seeks to avoid costly mistakes in project implementation, either because of the environmental damages that are likely to arise during project implementation, or because of modifications that may be required subsequently in order to make the action environmentally acceptable. In Malaysia, EIA is required under section 34A, Environmental Quality Act, 1974.
How to conduct EIA?
To assist you in the preparation of environmental impact assessment reports, you may refer to "A Handbook of Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines" and EIA guidelines for specific activities published by the Department of Environment.
What are the EIA procedures?
The EIA procedure adopted in Malaysia consists of three major steps. The steps in the EIA procedure are as follows:
Preliminary assessment of all prescribed activities;
Detailed assessment of those prescribed activities for which significant residual environmental impacts have been predicted in the preliminary assessment;
Review of assessment reports;
What are the steps of the EIA?
The objectives of Preliminary Assessment for prescribed activities are:
to examine and select the best from the project options available.
to identify and incorporate into the project plan appropriate abatement and mitigating measures.
to identify significant residual environmental impacts
A Preliminary Assessment should normally be initiated during the early stages of project planning. Standard Procedural Steps are provided and the assessment might be conducted "in house", or by a consultant. Some form of public participation is mandatory. Environmental data collection may be necessary and close liaison between the assessor and relevant environment related agencies is encouraged. The results of Preliminary Assessment are reported formally for examination and approval by the project approving authority and the Director General of Environmental Quality. Preliminary Assessment requires resources that are a small proportion of the man-hours, money, skills and equipment committed to a pre-feasibility study and the assessment should be completed within the time frame of that study.
The objectives of Detailed Assessment for prescribed activities with potentially significant esidual environmental impact include :
- to describe the significant residual environmental impacts predicted from the final project plan;
- to specify mitigating and abatement measures in the final project plan; and
- to identify the environmental costs and benefits of the project to the community.
Detailed Assessment should continue during project planning until the project plan is finalised. Standard procedural steps are provided and specific terms of reference based on the results of Preliminary Assessment are issued for each project. The Assessment might be conducted "in house" or by a consultant. The assessment method is selected according to the nature of the project; some form of public participation is required. Environmental data collection is almost certainly necessary. The results of Detailed Assessment is reported formally.
The EIA Review Process
The objectives of Review for Prescribed Activities subjected to Detailed Assessment include:
1. to critically review the Detailed Assessment reports;
2. to evaluate development and environmental costs and benefits of the final project plan; and
3. to formulate recommendations and guidelines to the project approving authority relevant to the implementation of the project.
Review of EIA Reports is carried out internally by the DOE with the assistance from the relevant technical agencies for preliminary assessment reports and by an ad hoc Review Panel for detailed assessment reports. Recommendations arising out of the review are transmitted to the relevant project approving authorities for consideration in making a decision on the project. According to the DOE's Client Charter, the period allocated for a review of a term of reference (TOR) and EIA report are as follows:
Preliminary EIA Report - 5 weeks
Terms of Reference (TOR) for the preparation of Detailed EIA Report - 4 weeks
Detailed EIA Report - 12 weeks
The DOE maintains a list of experts who may be called upon to sit as members of any Review Panel established. The selection of the experts depends on the areas of environmental impacts to be reviewed.
*Source: Department of Environment, Malaysia