Environmental Assessment Through Comprehensive Studies and Review Panel Process Options Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act: A Comparative Review of Public Influence in the EA Process

Public participation is a central objective of environmental assessment process and a means by which the concerns and interests of the public are considered before a project proceeds. However, there have always been concerns as to the real influence of the public in the environmental assessment process. Using a qualitative comparative case study approach, this study considered two types of assessment established in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, comprehensive studies and review panels, to understand which of the two process options results in more meaningful consideration of intervenor concerns. The results indicate that though proponents were responsive to intervenor comments during comprehensive studies, panel reviews resulted in more uptake of intervenor concerns. On the issue of which process option provided more opportunities for public participation, the findings suggest that there were no significant differences between the two options because the entry points for public participation were similar.

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