The Timing of the Environmental Assessment
If there is a golden rule for EA it is this: carry out the assessment at the earliest possible stage in a project's development and in relation and proportion to other project planning activities. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the relationship between a project and its physical, economic and social environment is clearly understood at the outset.
It is much easier to resolve a problem that threatens a project's objectives early on in a project. Try to avoid a situation in which social and economic factors have to be re-examined toward the end of a project because an environmental analysis undertaken too late in the game uncovered new interpretations and impacts (World Bank 1991a).
An early and timely EA is fostered by an open and continuous exchange of information between the EA team, the project management team and the local community. Additional EA activity may be required later on in the project.