The need for more stringent requirements in environmental impact assessment: Shell Cove Marina case study

Kirsten Benkendorff, University of Wollongong


An examination of Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) points to a clear need for change in the current process of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in Australia. The recent approval of a Boatharbour/Marina at Shellharbour, New South Wales, Australia, serves as an example that underscores some of the problems common to most EISs. Budgetary constraints imposed on the ecological consultants can lead to the use of inappropriate methodology and the collection of inaccurate biological data. The limitations in methodology must be taken into consideration in EISs and all conclusions should be substantiated with data or reference to the literature. There is a need for stricter guidelines for ecological studies and monitoring programmes. A comprehensive list of potential impacts requiring consideration in an EIS should be provided for all designated developments. Novel mitigation methods should always be subject to monitoring. The consequences of not proceeding with the development should be considered in conjunction with alternatives to the proposed development and it should be essential to consider ecotourism as an alternative to all purely tourist oriented proposals. There is a need tor peer review in the EIA process. Many of the flaws in the Shell Cove EIS might have been negated by more input from independent scientists. The future of ecologically sustainable development in Australia depends on our ability to learn from, and improve on, mistakes from the past.