Peter Janssens and Luc Hens
Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) performed so far in Flanders, Belgium, differ widely in their content and approach. To lessen the problems, the Flemish government has decided to develop a manual of guidelines for EIA.
A methodology has been proposed for each of nine knowledge areas or disciplines: Air, Climate, Noise and vibration, Radiation, Soil, Water, Fauna and flora, Landscape and monuments, and People (health and population density). This chapter summarises the methodology dealing with the health aspects of EIA.
As health is intrinsically related to the environment, Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) fundamentally rests on the description of environmental changes. Health risk assessment uses toxicological and epidemiological methods. Using these results, the expert predicts the health effects of environmental changes associated with a project or activity.
In Belgium, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is regionalised. Belgium is divided into three regions: Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders. Legislation for EIA in Flanders differs from that in the other regions. Devuyst and his colleagues have evaluated this situation (Devuyst et al., 1991a, 1991b, 1993). Since 1989 the Flemish regional government has identified a list of projects and activities which should be subject to EIA (Table 13.1).
Following the introduction of EIA legislation in the Flanders region, a uniform format and framework of methodology and presentation between various EIA reports has yet to be developed. The contents and methodology used in the assessments developed to date differ markedly.
A description and evaluation of EIA in the Flanders region was performed by Devuyst and colleagues (1993). This study revealed a lack of quality control concerning the content of Environmental Impact Statements (EISs).
To facilitate a resolution of this difficulty, the Flemish regional government determined to develop benchmarks and publish guidelines for EIA. The primary goal of these is to establish a basis on which experts can rely when formulating EISs.