Regional Guidelines on Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Draft for Consultation and Comment
Version 22 August 2016

9.1 Purpose of public participation in the review of the EIA Report and EMMP

  1. The EIA Authority is generally responsible for reviewing the submission of the EIA Report, and making recommendations on whether to approve, require amendments to, or reject outright the report. The EIA Review should be made independently, transparently, and on the basis of complete information and scientific evidence. Accordingly, a clear review process involving opportunities for public participation facilitates an effective EIA review, particularly under circumstances where information may be limited.
  1. At this review step, the responsibility for facilitating public participation, and the target audience for PAP and stakeholder input, shifts from the proponent (and their EIA consultant) to the EIA Authority. The role of the project proponent and the EIA consultant is limited at this step to:
    • responding to queries; and
    • presenting the findings of the EIA in public participation events.
  1. Public participation is critical at the EIA Review step to ensure that there is an independent avenue for PAP and other stakeholders, including the general public, to transmit their views to the EIA reviewers and, ultimately, the decision-maker. This enables stakeholders to be engaged properly in the process and increases the certainty of decision-makers that all perspectives are considered in the final decision. Public participation at this step also needs to ensure that feedback is provided to stakeholders on how their perspectives were considered in the decision-making process.
  1. Important considerations for the EIA Authority in reviewing the EIA Report and recommending whether or not it should be approved include (but are not limited to) the following:
    • the level and quality of public participation undertaken throughout the preparation of the EIA, including consistency with the Public Participation Plan;
    • the PAP and other stakeholder views on the project proposal, including the EMMP and any compensation proposed;
    • how PAP and other stakeholder concerns and comments were addressed in the EIA Report;
    • whether the proposed mitigation measures and EMMP are likely to adequately reduce and/or address the impacts;  
    • the relevance and value of project commitments (i.e. those proposed social benefits in addition to the EMMP measures);
    • consistency with broad sustainable development objectives;
    • consistency with the Scoping Report and approved ToR; and
    • conditions that should be attached to an approval (in addition to the commitments in the EIA and EMMP).
  1. The EIA Authority should prepare a clear recommendation on the EIA Report that includes summaries of:
    • the key issues;
    • the public participation undertaken by the project proponent and EIA consultant;
    • how the public input was addressed in the EIA;
    • the public participation arranged by the EIA Authority as part of the review of the EIA; and
    • how public submissions were considered during the EIA review and development of the recommended decision.