M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentShachaf Leyron
SubjectThe Contribution of Environmental Impact Statements to
Incorporation of Environmental Protection Measures
in Statutory Plans: A Comparative Study
of Two Planning Tracks in ...
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors ASSOCIATE PROF. Daniel Eli Orenstein
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is a key tool for protecting the environment within the planning process and has been practiced in the Israeli planning system since 1982. The product of the assessment is a written report known as an Environment Impact Statement (EIS), which contains recommendations for integrating measures that aim to minimize the environmental impact of the proposed project. Within the Israeli planning system, planning committees decide whether to adopt these recommendations.

While the effectiveness of EIA is debated in the literature, most studies focus on the process of the evaluation. In this study, I examine the interaction between the EIA process and its specific placement within the planning process. The research question on which I focus is: How does the Environment Impact Assessment process affect the integration of measures into statutory plans for minimizing a project’s environmental impact as a function of its position in the planning process ?

Currently there are two main procedures for planning highways in Israel, which differ, among several characteristics, in the way EIA is carried out. The first procedure is via Regional and National planning committees. The second is via the National Infrastructure Committee. The effects of EIA on decision making within the Israeli planning system, in the two different planning processes, are examined and compared in this work. Three case studies of highway plans were analyzed, including two plans of the National Infrastructures Committee and one plan of Regional and National committees. Environmental issues which were raised throughout the planning process of each case study were examined by analyzing documents from early planning stages and until the plan was approved.

The findings of this research indicate that EIA in highway planning via the National Infrastructure Committee in Israel had a more positive effect on integrating planning measures to minimize environmental impact in statutory plans compared to EIA via the Regional and National committees. A higher percentage of EIS recommendations was integrated as statutory provisions of the plans approved in the National Infrastructure Committee (100%-85%) than that which was approved in the Regional plan (67%). These results are due in part to the committee's high level of involvement throughout the planning stages. Particularly "Congress Deliberations" encouraged public and civil organizations to introduce environmental planning issues at early stages of the planning process . In contrast, while public and civil organization participation took place in the Regional planning process, it was later in the process, where it was less effective in influencing outcome.

In view of the limited number of case studies, continued research is needed to draw definitive conclusions about the EIA process via the National Infrastructure Committee compared to the process via Regional and National committees. However, results of this research indicate that the effectiveness of EIA depends on how it is implemented throughout the various planning systems. Considering these findings, it is recommended that future comparative studies examine the effect of EIA in light of the context in which it is implemented throughout the various planning systems .