Start date: Junho 1990

Date of completion: Julho 1997

Environmental Conflict Episode: Environmental Impact Studies

IPAMB asked OBSERVA to create an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process database and a report to synthesize and interpret the compiled collection. This initiative was accepted as a preliminary study of OBSERVA’s Environmental Conflict Episodes project, due to its obvious relevance.

In the late 1980s, the first analyzes on Environmental Impact Studies (EIA) emerge in Portugal. At that time, some communications were presented to the Environmental Impact Assessment Seminar (APEA / SEARN, Lisbon), to the Colloquium on the Alqueva project at the Portuguese Society of Agricultural Sciences in Lisbon and to the 1st National Congress of Environmental Engineers in Lisbon. In the present decade, in the context of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Annual EIA Seminars, held in April 1991, March / April 1992 and March 1993, reflection on the EIA.

It has been more than 20 years since the beginning of the EIA process and 5 years of the Community Directive that created its mandatory as a prerequisite for the licensing of large works that physically and technologically infrastructure the national spaces. In effect, the EIA process was instituted on January 1, 1970 in the USA. It should be noted that, at this embryonic stage, the EIA was no more than a process applied to public or private projects that, by their nature and characteristics, were considered controversial.

The adoption of the EIA by the Member States of the European Community through Community Directive 85/377 gave new impetus to the effective development of this process. In Portugal, the EIA entered into force with DL 186/90 of 6 June and DR 38/90 of 27 November 1990, which transposed the Community Directive into national law. However, EIAs have been conducted since 1981. The first four studies were responsible for EGF as a customer of EDP and reported the construction of dams (the Lindoso and Torrão dams in 1981 and the Crestuma and Foz Côa dams in 1982) . Since then, the EIA has been developing in our country, evoking as fundamental principles the prevention that subjects the projects to impact an EIA before its licensing and the promotion of public participation in the decision making processes. It is following the abovementioned regulation and the establishment of the EIA that the analyzes in this area have intensified.

This project and the resulting study are part of this context. As the previous analyzes were not supported by a computerized database which has now been closed, it was considered essential to take into account the entire EIA stock since the beginning of the procedure (June 1991). In this respect, it should be noted that the pioneering work carried out by Helder Gil and Simone Martins, 5 years of the EIA in Portugal, could not rely on a computerized database. In order to adapt to the results obtained, it was considered important to make brief comments on the problems of the EIA and its legislation (Decree-Law 189/90 of 6 June and Decree-Law 38/90 of 27 November).

Associated Publications:  

Episódios de Conflito e Cidadania Ambiental – Estudos de Impacto Ambiental