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Impact assessment and Environmental Auditing

Environmental impact assessment is the mandatory assessment of the compliance of planned activities, such as planning documents, programmes and projects, with environmental protection requirements and with the principles of sustainable development, with the aim of determining the optimum solution.

On the other hand, environmental audit is the assessment of the compliance of environmental administration and performance of an operating business with environmental protection requirements, with sound environmental practice in general, and with the principles of sustainable development. Environmental auditing is mandatory only in cases stipulated by law.

Environmental audits are being used as a tool and an aid to test the effectiveness of environmental efforts at local level. An environmental audit is a systematic, independent internal review to check whether the results of environmental work tally with the targets. An environmental audit also focuses on whether the methods used to achieve goals are effective. To be more precise the work of an environmental audit is a study of documents and reports to see whether there are any deviations between targets and results. This is done by interviewing key people in the organisation. An environmental audit will confirm whether or not the environmental targets have been attained.

The concept of environmental auditing is closely related to monitoring, norms and standards

Environmental monitoring
Environmental monitoring is the systematic observation of the state of the environment and of the factors influencing it. Its main purposes are to forecast changes to the state of the environment and to provide initial data for planning documents, programmes and projects. The procedure of environmental monitoring shall be established by law.
Environmental norms
Environmental norms are reference figures or use rates of natural resources per production unit established for the quality of the environment, the volume of waste, or per production unit.
Environmental standards
Environmental standards are documents setting rules, guidelines and numeric values defined by the involved parties, and regulating activities or results of activities which either have or are likely to have impact on the state of the environment.

During a typical environmental audit, a team of qualified inspectors, either employees of the organization being audited or contractor personnel, conducts a comprehensive examination of a plant or other facility to determine whether it is complying with environmental laws and regulations. Using checklists and audit protocols and relying on professional judgment and evaluations of site-specific conditions, the team systematically verifies compliance with applicable requirements. The team may also evaluate the effectiveness of systems in place to manage compliance and assess the environmental risks associated with the facility's operations.

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