A health impact assessment of an environmental management plan: the impacts on physical activity and social cohesion
Issue addressed: This article describes a prospective health impact assessment (HIA) on a local government environmental management plan, the Shellharbour Foreshore Management Plan (SFM Plan). The health outcomes of interest were physical activity and social cohesion. Methods: The procedures undertaken include: screening; scoping; assessment of potential health impacts; negotiation; and decision-making. The potential positive and negative health impacts of the SFM Plan were assessed and opportunities to enhance the positive and mitigate the negative were identified. Results: Implementation of the SFM Plan was supported as the HIA showed a potential to benefit the health of local residents and visitors to the Shellharbour Foreshore area by increasing physical activity and social cohesion. Conclusion: The HIA provided a useful framework for establishing a collaborative relationship between the local government and health sector. It improved the local government's understanding of the inter-relationship between the environment and physical activity and social cohesion and enabled health authorities to have an impact on a capital works program to maximise health gain.