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Specific socioeconomic impact examples

Discover how socioeconomic impacts influence well-being, health, housing, infrastructure, and cultural sites.
Four latin kids sitting on the wall and admiring a beauty of the nature.

Most proposed activities occur within a human context.

It is very rare for any proposed activity not to involve people. In general, socio-economic impacts focus on how the activity affects human or societal well-being, as well as the use and benefit of any site. For example, the construction of a road may upset people living nearby due to noise and dust pollution, causing health impacts in some cases. Similarly, the construction of a wind turbine may affect the health of residents or compromise their views or real estate values. In cases such as dams, people may be forcibly relocated or displaced, and in others, impacts may include changes in the actual community as people move in and out of the region due to the employment generated from the proposed activity. Cultural values may also be affected or destroyed by various activities. Indigenous grave sites, buildings, historic shipwrecks, rock art sites, and many other values and sites may be affected by a proposed activity.

A study of social impact assessments of different projects in Denmark highlights examples of the different ways that social impacts occur. For example, a radioactive waste deposit in Risø raised several socioeconomic concerns which included impacts on agriculture, fisheries, food industry and tourism industries and worries about how the proposal would impact local jobs. Other concerns were around the emigration and immigration impacts of the project, and what it might mean for property prices. There were also concerns about health issues, notably related to groundwater and thus to the security of the supply of drinking water. Other potential impacts concern health and security regarding risks of contamination from radioactive waste such as radiation and heavy metals. Finally, community members were worried about the impact on monuments, artefacts, and other cultural sites in the region.

Loaded haulpaks climbing out of the Kalgoorlie Super Pit, one of the largest gold mines in the World. Gold was discovered in Kalggorlie in 1892. Loaded haulpaks climbing out of the Kalgoorlie Super Pit in Western Australia, one of the largest gold mines in the World. Gold was discovered in Kalgoorlie in 1892.

Australia offers another interesting example. In Western Australia, the development of a gold mine changed the social landscape of the region, and ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ social indicators were used to assess the impact of the mining. In this case, mining significantly affected the social fabric of the towns due to an ongoing reliance on a non-residential workforce. The population increases disproportionally quickly and largely by males, which in turn puts pressure on housing availability, and this also creates burdens on local infrastructure and service delivery. These are some of the challenges related to the social impacts that can occur as a result of activities such as mining.

Overall, specific socio-economic impacts will have specific consequences for the people living in or nearby the areas designated for or as a result of the activities being undertaken. They may often also have unexpected ripple effects and can be hard to predict. However, understanding the socio-economic impacts, as well as the cultural landscape in any proposed activity, will be crucial. In the end, it is the maintenance of a sustainable relationship between people and place which is why EIA is undertaken in the first place.

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Environmental Impact Assessment

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