Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a tool which identifies and evaluates the likely impacts of a development project on the environment, economy and society. It forms an integral part of the regulatory framework of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act). There appears to be, however, an issue which is undermining EIA's intended purposes to facilitate informed decision-making and achieve the environmental objectives of the EPBC Act: the methodological clarity of EIA. Currently, there is no widely accepted method for assessing environmental and economic impacts. This study exposes the methodological confusion in the assessment of environmental and economic impacts of mining projects assessed under the EPBC Act and analyses the implications of this issue for EIA's ability to achieve its intended purposes. The article concludes that failure by the legislature to address methodological confusion risks undermining the legitimacy and effectiveness of EIA in Australia.
|Environmental and Planning Law Journal
|Published - 2020