ASSESS THE LEVEL OF COMMUNITY AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN EIA PROCESS IN NIGERIA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

On 1st January, 1970, the United State of America had the distinction of becoming the first country in the world to adopt legislation requiring environmental impact assessment on major projects. Since then, the growth of EIA legislation has been quite phenomenal. Today, in more than 100 countries EIA has become a requirement for project development.

One aim of environmental impact assessment is to provide information about the likely environmental impacts of development decisions to the developer, the public and decision makers (Glasson et. al. 1999, Petts, 1999, Wood 2003).  Consultation and participation are integral to environmental impact assessment:  EIA is not EIA without consultation and public participation (Wood, 2003).  Over the last fifteen years there has been an increasing interest and awareness of the need for public involvement during environmental decision making.  This is included in best practice guidance and is also gaining increased legal recognition following certain international conferences and also revised legislation.  Spurred on this movement and the ever increasing availability of information, society is demanding to be informed and involved in the decision making which affects its daily life and well being

The World Bank defined Environmental Assessment as a process whose breadth, depth, and type of analysis depend on the proposed project. Environmental Assessment evaluate a project potential environmental risks and impacts in its area of influence and identifies ways of improving project design and implementation preventing, minimizing, mitigating or compensation for adverse environmental impacts and enhancing positive impacts.

Apart from this, several definitions has been used over the year to describe the EIA process. This include: Munn (1979) define EIA as a systematic process that identifies and evaluates the potential impacts of proposed projects, operations, plans, programmes or even legislation on the environment. Doe (1980) described environmental impact assessment as a technique and a process which information about the environmental effects of a project is collected, both the developer and from other sources and taken into account the planning authority informing their judgement on whether the development should go ahead. Generally, EIA can be put as a tool that seek to ensure that developmental projects are handed in a way that impact arising from its activities can be predicted before its implementation.

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