What is social impact assessment for petrol station construction?

The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) (2003) states that SIA includes the processes of analysing, monitoring and managing the intended and unintended social consequences, both positive and negative, of planned interventions (policies, programs, plans, projects) and any social change processes invoked by these interventions. Its primary purpose is to bring about a more sustainable and equitable biophysical and human environment. The Inter-organisational Committee on Principles and Guidelines for Social Impact Assessment (2003:231) defines SIA in terms of “efforts to assess, appraise or estimate, in advance, the social consequences that are likely to follow from proposed actions”.
On the other hand, social change processes are set in motion by project activities or policies. Change has a way of creating other changes. Social change processes can lead to several other, second-order social change processes.

Depending on the characteristics of the local social setting and mitigation processes that are put in place, social change processes can lead to social impacts (Van clay, 2002: 192). Social change processes relevant to the project will be discussed before the potential impacts will be investigated and mitigation measures proposed.

‘SIA is concerned with analysing, monitoring and managing the social consequences of development”. SIA is a methodology used by SIA practitioners to assess the social impacts of planned interventions or events, . iand to develop strategies for the ongoing monitoring and management of those impacts” (IAIA, 2003).

SIA introduces knowledge about the social implications of an activity, into the planning, decision-making and management process associated with the activity. A social impact is something that is experienced or felt. It can be positive or negative. In social sciences, one can distinguish between two types of social impacts:

Subjective social impacts• i.e. Impacts that occur “in the imaginations” or emotions of people, such as i . :negative public attitudes, psychological stress or reduced quality of life. This kind of impact is much more i :difficult to identify and describe, as one cannot readily quantify perceptions or emotions.

Objective social impacts – i.e. Impacts that can be quantified and verified by independent observers, such as changes in population size or composition, in employment patterns, in standard of living or in health and safety. This can typically be quantified.

Social scientists should not refrain from including subjective social impacts, as these can have far-reaching consequences in the form of opposition to, and social mobilisation against the project (Du Preez and Perold, 2005: v)

For the purpose of this SEIA, the following categories of impact were investigated:

  • Health and social well-being;
  • Quality of the living environment;
  • Economic impacts and material well-being;
  • Cultural impacts;
  • Family and community impacts;
  • Institutional, legal, political and equity impacts; and
  • Gender impacts.

Relevant criteria for selecting significant social impacts included the following:

  • Probability of the event occurring;
  • Number of people that will be affected;
  • Duration of the impact;
  • Value of benefits or costs to the impacted group;
  • Extent to which identified social impacts are reversible or can be mitigated;
  • Likelihood that an identified impact will lead to secondary or cumulative impacts;
  • Relevance for present and future policy decisions;
  • Uncertainty over possible effects; and
  • Presence or absence of controversy over the issue.

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