Environmental Impact is defined as the change in the environment resulting from human activity. The Environmental impact assessment is performed by inspection, analysis and assessment of scheduled activities to ensure environmentally safe, sustainable development and foresee potential consequences together with the mitigation measures.
In other words, it is the study and analysis of the environmental feasibility of a proposed project which could impact environmental safety, public health and natural resources. Hence, its importance as an early warning for potential environmental issues arises from the project.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is considered a tool for taking environmental consideration into account at decision making processes and provide a regulatory frame, informative basis regarding activities that affect the environment.
The main focus of Environmental Impact Assessment for a project is the extent of its effect on the natural environment:
o Effects on water and air quality.
o Effect on plant and animals.
However, with the increase of awareness of the necessity of studying and evaluating Environmental impact for any project, the expected health, social, and economic effects are incorporated in the assessment process.
Environmental Impact objectives are divided into two major categories:
o Short Term : to inform the decision maker of the expected environmental impacts and the potential risks in proposed development projects.
o Long Term: which enable us to achieve sustainable results by ensuring that the proposed development projects poses no threat to ecological systems or any of its critical resources which can adversely impact the lifestyle and welfare of societies who rely on such resources in their livelihood.
Environmental impacts are complicated and occur on a large scale, the consequences of some of them are apparent after a long period of time. Therefore, Environmental Impact Assessment became a very important tool for decision making in the development process. This role was officially defined by principle no. (17) of Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992 which states: ” Environmental impact assessment, as a national instrument, shall be undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a competent national authority”.
The Assessment Process shall be based on three main points:
o Integration: The assessment is performed according to international criteria and requirements.
o Utilities: the assessment shall provide sufficient reliable data about environment and development which help in decision making.
o Sustainability: the assessment shall lead to implementation of preventive measures to mitigate projects’ environmental impacts and avoid loss of ecological species and systems which contribute in environmental protection in order to achieve sustainable development.
The Saudi Royal Commission managed apparently in all its projects to conduct comprehensive ecological survey before the establishment of Jubail Industrial City in order to make the master plan of the city for all industrial and service activities in line with the ecological components without damaging it or consumption of available resources in an unsustainable manner.
This is in addition to the prerequisite of Environmental Impact Assessment for any project prior to its establishment which made the Royal Commission one of the leading entities in environmental and industrial comprehensive management and a model to be followed in appropriate environmental and industrial planning according to sustainable scientific frames.
This placed Jubail Industrial City due to its comprehensive infrastructures and services among the international investments most attractive cities.
Director of Environmental Protection and Control Department
Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu.
Eng. Owayed S. Al-Rashidi