environmental Impact Assessment
A formal assessment of the environmental impacts that are likely to arise from major activities such as new legislation or a new policy, programme, or project. The results of the assessment are reported in the environmental impact statement. EIA was first introduced in the USA in 1969 and has since been widely applied. It is being adopted in one form or another in an increasing number of countries as a basis for making informed and rational judgements about what sorts of developments are environmentally acceptable. Strategic environmental assessment has developed out of EIA.