A QUESTION OF BALANCE IN INTEGRATED IMPACT ASSESSMENT: NEGOTIATING AWAY THE ENVIRONMENTAL INTEREST IN AUSTRALIA'S BASSLINK PROJECT
It is argued that under the guise of integrated impact assessment, environmental capacity and quality is being eroded rather than enhanced. This proposition is examined in the context of a World Heritage Area and an integrated impact assessment process for a major energy infrastructure project in Australia known as Basslink. The case study, which charts the negotiations that took place between a proponent, environmental researchers, consultants, regulators and decision-makers for an environmental flow for the iconic Gordon River in Tasmania, describes the 'balance' that was struck in the name of sustainable development. It demonstrates that, while social and economic benefits tend to be identified as one and the same, the environment is constituted as an oppositional "good". We argue that this outcome is the rule rather than the exception and caution that integrated assessments could serve to 'fast-track' the loss of environmental capacity and quality.
Integrated assessment, Basslink, balance discourse, World Heritage
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