How impact assessment has developed
Feature 1970s 2000s Advantages
Disciplines involved Bio-physical only Social added Integrated approach sought
Study area & objectives Focused on project and its footprints Includes regional scale, cumulative effects Provides context of development and sustainability
and its footprints cumulative effects and sustainability  
EA process Within technical team only Includes wide range of stakeholders More open & accessible
Study focus Data collection & analysis (front-end) Management of impacts (back-end)  
Public consultation Nominal Substantive & central Helps define & prioritise issues
Disclosure of documents Limited Widespread, increasingly web-based; focus on local disclosures as well (not necessarily web based if done in a culturally appropriate manner) Much greater access to information for all parties
Transparency of process Very limited Much more open Clear, concise communications sought
Impacts identified All the ‘negatives’ ‘Positives’ as well as negatives More balanced perspective on project implications
Management and Action Plans Nominal Major focus With objective of minimising negative and optimising positive impacts
Regulatory approach Command & control Increasingly contract-based Private sector involvement formalises and difines obligations of parties in detail
Monitoring & follow-up Very limited Much more required on regular basis Trend towards making monitoring reports publicly available
Documentation summary Highly technical & jargon-laden Clear, concise & highly graphic summary Aims to communicate clearly with wide of stakeholders