'Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)' is a study which can be used as a planning tool, to predict the likely environmental consequences of a proposed development project. EIA provides the mechanism for preventive action and outlines ways to improve the project suitability for its proposed environment.
The aim of EIA is to ensure that potential problems are foreseen and addressed at an early stage in the project planning and design. In this regard, it becomes a planning tool in the design of a project to prevent environmental disaster and consequently, to avoid costly mistakes in project implementation at the earliest stage.
EIA is an important process in deciding the final shape of a project. It helps the project proponent to achieve his objective more successfully because:
- A project that has been designed to suit the local environment is more likely to be completed on time and within budget, and is more likely to avoid difficulties along the way;
- A project that conserves the natural resources it relies upon will continue to be sustained by the environment for years to come; and
- A project that yields its benefits without causing serious problems is more likely to bring credit and recognition to its proponent.