oa Juta's Business Law - So near and yet so far with environmental impact assessments



In a country thirsty for economic development, the correction of past injustices, and the optimal utilization of our available natural resources, the conducting of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) has come to play a crucial role in protecting and conserving our natural resource base while allowing responsible and much-needed development. However, over the past ten years, EIAs have also been severely criticized for frustrating development by causing unnecessary delays and creating unreasonable barriers. Yet a careful analysis shows that the flaws lie not in the EIA process but in its poor administrative enforcement by various people. These include certain officials who lack capacity or experience, certain EIA consultants who do not understand the process sufficiently, certain developers who seek to avoid transparent assessment at every opportunity, and competitors and others with vested interests who have used the EIA process to stop development for reasons not associated with environmental protection or conservation.


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