Environmental impact assessment follow–up in South Africa : critical analysis of predictions and compliance for the Mooi River Mall case study
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is recognised worldwide as a tool for identifying the potential adverse effects of a proposed development on the environment. Very little attention has been given to determining the actual environmental effects resulting from a development. The need for EIA follow–up (i.e. monitoring, auditing, evaluation, management and communication) was identified and would form the building blocks within the EIA process. Follow–up provides information about the consequences of an activity and presents opportunities to implement adequate mitigation measures. EIA follow–up is not developed to its full potential even though the need for it is acknowledged and supported in legislation, scientific journals and scientific books. EIA follow–up necessitates feedback in the EIA process to ensure lessons learnt and outcomes from past experiences can be applied in future actions. Follow–up is only a legal requirement if conditions are specified in the environmental authorisation (EA). Of particular concern to follow–up is the accuracy of prediction and secondly, the level of compliance to conditions set out in the authorization and management plans. This study will focus primarily on critically analysing predictions and compliance from the construction phase of a high profile mega shopping mall project, namely the Mooi River Mall (MRM), with an analysis to gauge the actual effect and contribution of the EIA process to decision making and implementation practices. Multiple data sources were used to determine the accuracy of predictions and legal compliance level of the Mooi River Mall. The Mooi River Mall's accuracy of predictions (66%) and legal compliance (83%) suggest that some of the impacts were unavoidable; that mitigation measures were either not implemented or identified or that EIA follow–up served its purpose in the form of implementing effective auditing programmes to monitor legal compliance.