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Journal article

Quality of environmental impact statements and variability of scrutiny by reviewers

Adequate provision of information is essential for decision making. This paper provides the results of the quality assessment of Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), documents prescribed by EIA Directive (337/85/EEC).

Kaja Peterson / Published on 8 January 2010

Peterson, K. (2010). Quality of environmental impact statements and variability of scrutiny by reviewers. Peterson, K. (2010). Quality of Environmental Impact Statements and variability of scrutiny by reviewers. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 30(3): 169 - 176.

The assessment was completed by several categories of reviewers in Estonia, which has been an EU member state since 2004. The quality assessment of EIS was based on the EC Guidance on EIS Review (2001).

Firstly, the quality assessment of 50 randomly selected EIS was carried out by a single reviewer. Secondly, the individual grading among 24 independent reviewers of a single EIS was tested. Thirdly, a comparison of the results of 15 individual and 5 group assessments of the same EIS was conducted.

The results from the quality assessment of the selected EIS demonstrate a satisfactory level of information provided for decision making; 68% of the sample EIS were positively graded. However, more than half of the 50 EIS were graded as “just satisfactory”.

Comparison between the individual and group assessment of the same EIS demonstrates that the group assessment is more critical than the individual assessment. This possibly results from a wider technical expertise and balancing of subjective values and perspectives among group members.

Arguably, the current practice of EIA competent authorities assessing the quality of EIS with individuals could be revised. We discuss the effect of the group assessment on expanding the narrow technical expertise and the subjectivity of a single expert.

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