Screening is a critical first stage of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process, vetting development proposals to determine whether or not they require a full assessment. Inadequately executed significance tests undermine EIA's purpose of environmental protection. There is considerable variation across jurisdictions in terms of prescriptive and discretionary significance tests and the criteria and thresholds within them. Of all aspects of EIA, screening is cited as the most frequent source of actual infringements, yet there is a dearth of research in this area. This paper presents an empirical study from South Australia that investigates the adequacy of its discretionary screening process. The findings suggest that improvements are much needed toward improved consistency and transparency of decision-making and, ultimately better environmental protection. The paper prompts a thorough examination of significance testing elsewhere.
- EIA effectiveness
- environmental impact assessment
- impact significance
- land-use planning
- South Australia