Scoping is the procedure in the EIA process that establishes the key environmental issues to be addressed in the compilation of the EIA Report. Scoping, which identifies the environmental parameters to be assessed on the EIA Report results in the formulation of EIA Terms of Reference (TOR), or guidelines. EIA TOR are tailor made to the type of project being assessed and therefore help to focus the study on the most significant environmental issues.
The scoping process consists of the following:
- An identification of the expected environmental impacts by ERA based on, but not limited to, the information presented in the PDS;
- A 30-day consultation with relevant agencies of government, local councils, NGOs and the public;
- For developments falling under Category I, a scoping meeting is organised by ERA;
- ERA formulates draft TOR;
- The TOR are forwarded to the applicant and the architect/consultants; and
- The final TOR are issued and uploaded on the ERA website.
TOR are not cast in stone and are therefore project-specific guidelines. Should consultants deem that certain issues are not relevant to the development, discussions are held with the Authority to determine whether such requests are duly justified. Similarly, should the TOR have overlooked important environmental issues ERA has the right to request such information in the EIA. During this process, it is advisable that the consultants keep close contact with ERA.
Typical EIA TOR consist in the following:
- Description of the proposed development;
- Alternatives to the proposed development (including alternative sites, layouts and technologies);
- Description of the proposed site and surroundings;
- Assessment of environmental impacts and risks of the proposed development;
- Design of mitigation measures; and
- Design of monitoring programmes.