Impact assessment at the crossroads Impact assessment continues to struggle for legitimacy and standing in comparison with technical, economic and engineering analyses. This quest has placed a premium upon scientific rigour and a focus on environmental impact statements attempting to outline the character of project effects. At the same time, there are growing pressures to make studies of impacts timely and cost-effective, as well as accessible to lay audiences. It is a combination that tends to counteract the ability of resource managers to use the full range of technical options that might be available. Also there are limitations on the ability of science to delineate project effects effectively and accurately due to data limitations and the uncertainty that characterizes many developments. This situation brings to the forefront the basic question raised in this book. Is impact assessment a scientific tool for the analysis of environmental effects, or is it an approach to public decision making regarding development proposals?