You are here: / Practiñe / Public participation and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Clark (1994) suggests that public participation in EIA has a critical role to play in helping to integrate economic, social and environmental objectives, i.e. move towards more sustainable development by acting as a device to strengthen and increase public awareness of the delicate balance between economic and environmental trade-offs. It also safeguards against bad or politically motivated decisions. Public participation is necessary for minimizing or avoiding public controversy, confrontation and delay, and can make a positive contribution to the EIA process. The general objectives of involving the public at different stages in the EIA process were considered by a recent European Commission research project (EC, 1999) as given in the table.

Objectives of public participation during stages of the EIA process

Formal opportunities for public participation in EIA are defined in legislation. While rights of involvement in many countries are limited to opportunities for viewing and commenting on finalised reports, in principle, public consultation and participation can occur at every stage in the EIA process. The table summarizes the main objectives of public involvement at each stage of the EIA process, including a detailed description of these objectives (EC, 1999).

In brief, literature shows that there are a number of advantages of involving the public early on in the EIA process. If participation does occur early on then interaction between the public, developer and decision-making body should continue throughout the EIA process if the full benefits are to be seen.

Table : Summary of Objectives of Public Involvement in EIA

Stage of EIA process
Objectives of public involvement
Screening Identification of significant impacts
  • Identification of public's interest and values
  • Identification of priorities for assessment
  • Encouraging public understanding of the proposed project
  • The public can contribute local knowledge and values to the prediction, evaluation and mitigation of impacts
  • Improvement in quality and acceptability of EIA report
EIA Report Review Public contribute to evaluation of quality and acceptability of report
Decision Public comment on acceptability of project impacts
Monitoring Public evaluate impacts that occur and support project environmental management process


Practically in all national systems of EIA there are mandatory requests, which foresee:

  • Publication of the EIA report, and making it available to the public in a public place
  • Offering the public the possibility to get acquainted with the documentation and to give comments;
  • Collection of public comments and notes;
  • Accounting for the publics opinion while making the decision.

These requests offer “a necessary minimum” of requirements for public participation in the EIA process.

In some countries the initiator of the project will publish EIA report allowing comments of the public for a final version of the document (USA). In other countries publications of the EIA report and public comments are the responsibility of state organsations (Great Britain).

In most cases the "necessary minimum" appears insufficient for effectively accounting for public judgement on a project. Therefore, extension of possibilities for public participation is an important tendency in EIA procedures. In a number of countries the norms on mandatory public participation are spread over other stages of the process. For example in the Netherlands, public participation is mandatory, not only on the final EIA report, but also in the formulation phase of the report.

This link contains specific information with respect to Russia, law and environment

This site is optimized for viewing with Internet Explorer 4 and higher