A critical assessment of the social and economic aspects of environmental impact of assessment in South Africa.
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MAGISTER SCIENTlAE IN THE FACULTY OF NATURAL SCIENCES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WESTERN CAPE. This thesis focuses on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA's) as prepared in the Western Cape Province. The thesis attempts to summarise the legal requirements for EIA's and then to analyse two recent assessmentsin the light of the concern raised by Alex Weaver, at the South African chapter of the International Association for Impact Assessment National Conference in 1999, that EIA's~l§_cLI>listoricaily _gisadvantag~and do not give sufficient attention to social impacts. The thesis also attempts to analyse the EIA's and to critically assess whether they comply with the intention of the legal requirements. The applicable legislation and regulations are analysed to determine whether there are sufficient guidelines for practitioners to assessthe socio-economic impacts of development in an equitable manner to the assessmentof the biophysical impacts. It was found that the legislation and the regulations do not provide clear guidance for the consideration of the socia-economic aspects of the environment or impacts in the preparation of EIA's. The EIA's regarding the Relocation Of The Informal Settlement At Stanford and for the Koringberg-Platvlei-MiddelburgWater Supply Pipeline required to provide potable water to rural communities are analysed, as both have socio-economicgoals. In the Stanford case, an informal settlement located on the town's water source has to be relocated to the town, where there is a shortage of land available for development and site-specific impacts on a major employer, with the threat of a potential loss in employment opportunities. In the Koringberg-Platvlei-Middelburg case, the rural community has insufficient potable water and a supply scheme is proposed in a potentially sensitive environment. In order to analyse the two assessments,the ideal EIA and recent trends are first established from literature. Criteria for the assessment of the EIA's are determined and then used to ascertain whether the concern raised by Weaver is correct. In the analysis of the subject EIA's it was found that both address the social issues of concern, albeit without clear guidance from the applicable legislation and regulations. Following on the critical assessmentof the recent EIA's, the thesis provides proposals and stepby-step guidelines for the drafting of EIA's for use by students and inexperienced practitioners in the field of environmental management. Weaver's concern is found to be correct and recommendations are made to adjust the relevant regulations, to give clear guidance for the consideration of seclo-economic concerns in the preparation of EIA's.