The effectiveness of public participation in environmental impact assessment in selected South African case studies
Mnengwane, Julia Jamela Jessica
MetadataShow full item record
Public participation is an integral part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process, as it provides opportunities for interested and affected parties (I&APs) to participate in the decision making process. The objective of public participation is to accomplish social and environmental justice and to promote informed decision making. Concern however exists that public participation is seen and implemented as a rigid “one size fits all” process and that the inputs by I&APs are limited to the pre-authorisation phases i.e. the I&APs are not involved in the environmental management of the full life cycle of the activity. The problem appears to stem from the fact that the implementation of the public participation process is associated with a number of shortcomings and may be seen as a paper exercise to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Management Act. The aim of the research is to determine the effectiveness of public participation in EIA processes, using a group of selected South African case studies. A structured, survey-based research study was conducted with I&APs, environmental assessment practitioners (EAPs) and officials from relevant decision making bodies (competent authorities). The main aim of the research has been achieved and all research objectives answered. The study concludes that public participation in EIA processes is not purely a paper exercise, but does in fact enhance decision making. However, there are widespread concerns regarding the selection of alternatives and the alignment of public participation processes in other environmental assessments.