INTRODUCTION The concept of environmental impact assessment (EIA) has developed over recent decades into what has become accepted today as an essential tool in successful land use planning and regulation, as part of a wider integrated environmental management system. It has developed in response to growing concern over the impact of large-scale development projects on the surrounding ecological and cultural environment. In particular, this concern stemmed from the practical effects of damage caused by pollution that threatened human health, and the perceived intrinsic values of nature. EIA is defined as “a systematic process for the examination and evaluation of the environmental effects of proposed activities that are considered likely to significantly affect the environment.” It is distinct from other forms of environmental regulation, in that it approaches environmental problems from a preventative or mitigative perspective. This represents a significant change in policy from the retrospective and punitive nature of the traditional “command and control” style of regulation, which advocates the setting of standards and rules enforced by pecuniary and criminal forms of punishment. In particular, it was seen to provide a mechanism wherein projects or undertakings that would likely have a significant adverse environmental impact could be excluded from further consideration and approval denied outright, thus preventing damage to the environment, often entailing significant cleanup costs when found to exceed the current regulatory limits.