Environmental Impact Assessments

“Facts About Environmental Impact Assessments” describes how, when and why to evaluate the environmental situation prior to the start of a dredging project

Most dredging projects nowadays require some sort of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and these are often specified and required by law or regulation. An Environmental Impact Assessment is also recognised as part of good, modern project management. Although no standard for such an assessment is universally accepted, an Environmental Impact Assessment regularly contains:
  • an explanation of environmental objectives and policy;
  • a description of the existing environmental situation (the baseline conditions);
  • a description of the project;
  • an assessment of the potential effects of the project;
  • a summary of recommendations; and
  • an Environmental Management (or action) Plan (EMP).
An initial environmental evaluation provides a basis for determining whether or not to proceed with dredging. It should answer the question: Is a project as planned environmentally acceptable, and if not, what can be done to improve overall acceptability? The project owners are responsible vis-à-vis the authorities for the implementation of and adherence to the Environmental Impact Assessment. They will need to hire the expert consultants to adequately conduct the tests and make the evaluation. On the other hand, the contractors will have to guarantee in the final contract that the execution of the project will meet the standards set out in the Environmental Management Plan, which is created based on the details of the impact assessment. In addition, besides the project owner and expert consultants, public input into the evaluation can have added a value. The process of impact identification is based upon an appreciation of how the proposed project might interact with the environment, both in the dredging and the placement sites and during the transport between the two. As such, this requires an appreciation of what are considered to be the valued environmental and community resources within the vicinity of both sites. Communication with the public about this is essential; they need to be informed and an explanation of the assessments made should be offered. In some cases, the public may identify additional impacts and might ask for broader impact consideration, compensation or further mitigation. “Facts About Environmental Impact Assessments” answers essential questions such as:
  • What is an Environmental Impact Assessment?
  • What is the purpose of an Environmental Impact Assessment?
  • What is the difference between an EIA, an EIS, an EES and an ES?
  • Are EIAs only obligatory for projects involving contaminated materials?
  • Is an Environmental Impact Assessment always required?
  • At what stage of a project should an Environmental Impact Assessment be undertaken?
  • What is an Environmental Management Plan?
  • Does an Environmental Impact Assessment address only ecological issues?
  • What are the main steps of an Environmental Impact Assessment?
  • What are baseline conditions?
  • What other types of data should be collected?
  • Who conducts the Environmental Impact Assessment? And who implements it?
  • After the Environmental Impact Assessment is completed, then what?
  • Should the public be involved?
  • How can impacts be predicted?
  • What are the advantages of conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment?

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