This article presents the problems identified in the report by ENACT International.
The main difficulty is that the EIA system is designed to reduce the harm caused by specific projects. That is in contrast with development being ecologically sustainable development while promoting justifiable social and economic development. EIAs tend to focus on the immediate harm a project will cause rather than any benefits it might create in the long term to sustainable development.
There are inconsistencies and a lack of clarity regarding the criteria and approach the decision-makers apply in deciding on applications for environmental authorisations.
Decision making is neither as effective nor as efficient as possible because of a lack of integration. There are duplications of effort and increased costs, especially where multiple authorisations or licenses are required. Different authorities require the information in different formats; different organs of state are engaging with the proponent of the same development, allowing for inconsistent decision making which ultimately fails to protect the environment.
The vital role of municipalities in conserving the environment and promoting ecologically sustainable development is often not fully recognised. Municipal city planning decisions significantly impact the environment.
Compliance enforcement against local authorities also fails, largely because policy discourages one sphere or department taking another to court.
Post-approval monitoring of compliance with conditions in environmental authorisations must be strengthened and enforcement must take place where there has been non-compliance.