Does enhanced regulation improve EIA report quality? Lessons from South Africa
Van Heerden, A.J.
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Recently, various EIA systems have been subjected to system review processes with a view to improve performance. Many of these reviews resulted in some form of legislative reform. The South African Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations were modified in 2006 with the express intent to improve EIA effectiveness. In order to evaluate to what extent the desired outcome was achieved, the quality of EIA reports produced under the 2006 regulations was investigated for comparative analysis with the preceding regime. A sample of EIA reports from the two legislative regimes was reviewed using an adapted version of a well established method known colloquially as the “Lee and Colley” review package. Despite some improvements in certain aspects, overall report quality has decreased slightly from the 1997 EIA regime. It therefore appears that the modifications to the regulations, often heralded as the solution to improvements in performance have not resulted in improved quality of EIA reports.