Environmental Impact Assessment Comparison

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Mark allocation: 30% of unit total

Word limit: 2,000 words

Digital submission via LMS – assignments will be checked for plagiarism using Turnitin

Each student will prepare a comparative analysis of the environmental approvals process (including

requirements for Environmental Impact Assessments) for a similar development in two different places:

1) An Australian state (preferably Western Australia) and

2) ONE international jurisdiction.

Examples of developments that occur across the world and which could be used as the basis for this comparative assessment include:

  • A hydropower dam for electricity generation
  • An open cut mine for mineral ore extraction
  • A housing estate as part of a master-planned urban community
  • A road or rail development

You can use real examples, hypothetical examples, or a combination of the two 1 – the main requirement is that it should be a similar development in both countries2.

You don’t need to be an expert on any of these topics, and you don’t need to assess a full proposal for a development. Instead, we are just interested in the approvals process for developments of this kind, with a particular focus on the environmental impact assessment process in both jurisdictions. For the purposes of this assessment, you should assume that the nature of the development is basically identical in both geographic locations.

You must select a country other than Australia where the similar development may occur. Select from the list below (note that students who submit reports that focus on the same country will be closely inspected to verify that you have each completed this work on your own):

  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Netherlands
  • South Africa
  • United States of America

1 A suggested approach is to read about the approvals process for real projects or developments as part of your preparation for this assignment. It will be relatively easy to find documentation on actual projects in Western Australia, but may be significantly more difficult to do so for the international comparison. You can then write up your comparison for a hypothetical example for the international study case.

2 For example, compare the process for assessing the environmental impacts of an open-cut mine in Western Australia and in Brazil.

( 1 )

You may select another country if you are confident that you can find sufficient information on their environmental approvals process – but please discuss with the unit co-ordinator first.

The word limit for this assessment is 2,000 words. This includes ALL text in tables, figures, captions, headers, and footnotes, but excludes the reference list. You may include appendices to your report (not counted in the word count) but note that the assessable points should be in the main text. se are not assessed. If you struggle with the word count, you may wish to consider using bullet points, diagrams, tables and figures to summarize information, as this assessment is designed to encourage concise writing.

All good pieces of writing should stand on their own. To that end, ensure that you have an introduction and conclusion that neatly describe the purpose and main messages of your work.

Your report should cover the following items:

1. Context:

brief (1-2 paragraphs in total) introduction to the type of development, the proponent, and the potential environmental impacts3 associated with this type of development.

2. Environmental Approvals Processes, one for each country.

For each country/location, outline the regulatory process that the proponent would have to follow to secure approval for the development. You should pay attention to the biophysical environment and the social/cultural environment (i.e. the human dimension).

Note: the regulatory process might be very complex involving multiple agencies OR it may be explained in detail on a government website. To represent complexity and avoid simply copying text, it will be helpful to produce your own diagram/flowchart4 that outlines the process, or use a summary table or bullet points. If the approvals process is extremely complex, you may focus only on certain components of the approvals process to remain within the word limit (additional information can always be given as an Appendix).

3. Comparison of both countries:

Critically analyse and compare the key similarities and differences between the approvals process in both jurisdictions. Include commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of each process, and the reasons why there may be similarities and/or differences in the process. You may like to reflect on where your two countries sit globally with regard to environmental legislation (see for example WRI’s Environmental Democracy Index , or the UNEP’s ‘Environmental Rule of Law’ report5).

3 If you are not sure what kinds of impacts are likely to occur, you can use the Environmental Protection Authority’s Environmental Factor Guidelines or the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Standards. Assume that the broad types of impacts are similar in both the Western Australian and international location, although the specific impacts would obviously be different in the two locations (e.g. impacts on endemic flora and fauna).

4 NOT copied directly from the source website.

5 UNEP (2019) Environmental Rule of Law: First Global Report. United Nations Environment Programme, Kenya. Available online at: https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/27279/Environmental_rule_of_law.pdf

This first assignment for ENVT4421 is due at the end of Week 6. Feedback and marks will be provided to students before your next assignment is due.

You should refer to peer-reviewed literature in your report (i.e. journal articles, edited books and book chapters). You will also need to refer to information in the ‘grey literature’ (i.e. published by non-scholarly sources such as government agencies, consultancies, non-government organisations, individual experts – note that the quality of grey literature varies).

You may also use material from reputable websites, if correctly referenced. In general, websites associated with Australian federal, state and local governments, with universities, reputable corporations/industries, or with bodies associated with the United Nations will contain reliable information. Some websites associated with non-government organisations (NGOs) will provide reliable information, while others will not – the integrity and reputation of the NGO is important.

Correctly referencing your sources is an important skill. Academic referencing must be used for all

citations, including for all data incorporated within the assessment (this includes where the data have been used to create your own figures and tables) – including websites! There is help available in the Library survival guide ‘Referencing at UWA: A beginner’s guide ‘.

Please take the time to understand how to reference websites and reports correctly. It is NOT sufficient to simply copy and paste a bunch of hyperlinks into the reference list without any context of author, year title, institution, etc.

The UWA requires us to define one referencing style for each unit. For this unit, students are expected to use the APA citation style and to be consistent in their use of that style throughout each written assignment. Not using references appropriately will result in a deduction of marks.

Information about the APA citation style can be found here: https://guides.library.uwa.edu.au/apa

Limit fonts to Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri or Cambria in 11 or 12 point font size. Please use

reasonable page margins (i.e. at least 2 cm) and remember that these reports will be read and marked digitally and not in hardcopy.

This assignment is subject to a maximum word limit. Where a submitted assignment exceeds the word limit, a penalty of 1 per cent of the total mark allocated for the assessment task applies for each 1 per cent in excess of the word limit (i.e. every additional 20 words over the 2,000 word limit).

The comparative analysis will be assessed based on the following components and weightings:

Introduction and development of context 15% · Concise and clear introduction and explanation of the proposed development and associated environmental and social impacts
Description of environmental approvals process – Australian jurisdiction 25% · Accurate description of approvals process

· Identification of multiple scales of governance

· Appropriate representation used to summarise complex process

Description of environmental approvals process – second country 25% · Accurate description of approvals process

· Identification of multiple scales of governance

· Appropriate representation used to summarise complex process

Comparative analysis of approvals process in two jurisdictions 25% · Assessment of similarities and differences between two jurisdictions

· Attention to biophysical and social (human) elements

· Reflection on strengths and weaknesses of each process

· Reflection on contributing reasons for similarities and differences between two jurisdiction

Presentation, style and language 10% · Clear, succinct writing style and logical structure

· Correct and consistent referencing

· Clear presentation including use of tables, figures, maps etc.


Last Updated on April 5, 2021 by EssayPro