Consideration of alternatives
It is at the design stage, before any commitment to any particular action has been made, that it is easiest and cheapest to choose the alternative which best reduces the environmental impacts of an action. Later in the EIA process it may be necessary to consider another alternative if unforeseen impacts are predicted to arise from that chosen. Marriott (1997) suggested that the starting point in the consideration of alternatives should be the establishment of the purpose and need for the project, from which a range of initial alternatives should logically flow. Canter (1996) observed that typical EIAs in the United States focus on between three and five alternatives.