A crucial component of best practice in public consultation is the importance of full transparency about stakeholders’ comments. It is important for credibility of the consultation process and for the responsiveness of the project to its stakeholders, that all sides of the story be told fully and honestly when reporting on consultations. When opinion is negative or mixed about a project or a specific activity, it needs to be reported that way. One of the key benefits of this process is that it helps foster genuine relationships with mutual respect, shared concerns and objectives between the company pursing the development project and the community.
The PPP lends the environmental practitioners the opportunity to obtain local information from community members, which will ultimately enhance their understanding of the receiving environment. Together, they are able to produce better decisions and mitigation measures than they would have, had they acted independently. Not only the environmental practitioners, but especially the social practitioners can benefit from this local knowledge, and therefore it is important to incorporate the information obtained during the PPP in the SEIA.
When conducting a SEIA, one should be aware of the fact, and take into consideration that human beings are the objects of study, which will confront one with unique ethical problems. These questions typically include the fact that every individual has the right to privacy. It is the individual’s right to decide when, where, to whom, and to what extent his or her attitudes, beliefs and behaviour will be revealed (Strydom, 2002:67). Individuals interviewed for the purposes of this report have been assured, that although the information disclosed will be used to inform the SEIA, their names will not be disclosed. To protect those who were consulted with and in order to maintain confidentiality, the people interviewed for the SEIA will not be named in the report. Confidential records of the interviews have been kept.