Research Handbook on Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Law
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Research Handbook on Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Law

Edited by Douglas Fisher

The quality and the strength of an environmental legal system is a reflection of the conceptual foundations upon which it is constructed. The Research Handbook on Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Law illuminates key aspects of environmental governance through the lens of their underlying dimensions: for example, the form, structure and language of international, regional and national instruments; the function of norms, objectives and standards; and the relevance of economic analysis and of integrated policy formulation.
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Chapter 16: Environmental impact assessment: ‘setting the law ablaze’

Elizabeth Fisher


Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a defining feature of ‘modern’ environmental law and this chapter provides an overview of it and the type of legal frameworks and obligations its implementation creates. In particular, it focuses on the way that EIA, by creating a new legal frame that cuts across the existing legal order, gives rise to difficult legal questions in most jurisdictions. Three major legal features of EIA are examined: its procedural nature; the way it acts as a classificatory process; and the fact that it is primarily an administrative procedure. Overall it is shown that EIA is responding to ‘hot’ situations and thus is ‘hot’ law.

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