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Doctoral thesis, 2012

EIA practice

Wärnbäck, Antoienette


This thesis is about Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) practice in Sweden. Impact Assessment (IA) is expected to play a crucial role in enabling democratic and enlightened decision making. EIA practice seems however not to be in accordance with best IA practice norms and legislation in many countries. We therefore need a more thorough understanding of IA practice and its outcomes and about what is gained through EIA and thus also be able to suggest, on a more profound basis, how the practice can be improved. This thesis presents an analysis of the two cases EIA practice on cumulative effects and the final disposal for spent nuclear fuel. The methods and approaches used are qualitatively and include literature review, document analysis, individual interviews and focus group interviews. The results were analysed using social psychology theory and community of practice theory. The case of cumulative effects clearly demonstrated that a positive attitude towards including cumulative effects was in place, but the conditions to change the knowledge base were not. In the investigated case for a final disposal for spent nuclear fuel it was revealed that a shared practice and social learning over time might result in difficulties for the authority in mapping out a clear role and identity for itself in relation to the proponent. It also showed that the shared practice that has developed between the industry, and the competent authorities, has over time resulted in the adoption of a shared understanding and similar perspectives, concerning at least two points. The first concerns downgrading the need to more thoroughly investigate alternate technical methods to the main alternative, while the second concerns the need to avoid delays in the planning process. Communication and the shared practice that has developed over a long period of time, can have a significant and not necessarily positive impact on power relations and thus hamper knowledge production, diffusion of roles and identities.


EIA practice; cumulative effects; final disposal of spent nuclear waste; communities of practice; social learning; social psychology; interviews; document analysis

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2012, number: 2012:38
ISBN: 978-91-576-7674-0
Publisher: Dept. of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

Associated SLU-program

Future Urban Sustainable Environment (FUSE) (until Jan 2017)

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

URI (permanent link to this page)