SW environmental provide the following environmental services:
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA),
- Constraints and opportunity analyses and due diligence,
- Environmental applications and approvals,
- Environmental Management Plans,
- other Plans of Management,
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS), modelling and mapping,
- Visual Impact Assessment (VIA),
- Biological surveys,
- Fauna pre-clearance surveys,
- Construction audits
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Environmental impact assessment is a formal process used to predict the positive or negative environmental consequences of a project prior to the decision to implement it. It also proposes measures to minimise or mitigate impacts to acceptable levels. Environmental impact assessments aim to protect the environment by providing a basis for effective and sustainable development. When deciding whether or not to proceed with a project, decision makers account for environmental values in their decisions and justify those decisions based on detailed environmental studies (and public comments) on the potential environment impacts. The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an environmental impact assessment as “the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made.”
Impact assessments may require a broad assessment of the full suite of environmental issues or be more targeted to support existing documentation, such as flora, fauna or dieback surveys or visual impact assessment. The level of assessment depends on the scale and nature of the development and the requirement of relevant guidelines and legislation.
Constraints and opportunity analyses and due diligence reports
Constraints and opportunities analyses are typically undertaken early in the planning of a proposal to identify just that – constraints and opportunities that may affect the proposal in moving forward. They often identify risks and can be presented spatially to allow a proponent to micro site and design around physical or planning issues, but also allow for a heads up on approvals and other temporal factors that need to be considered. Assigning quantitative risk criteria in a matrix applied through traffic light risk maps and assessment tables are often a useful way to integrate opportunities and constraints for larger scale developments.
Applications, permits, referrals, negotiations
To satisfy the various decision makers at the various tiers of government, various applications and approvals associated with environmental and planning legislation are often required. Typical examples may include federal referrals, state clearing permits, management plans to meet statutory conditions such as local government development approval and other planning conditions, offsets and negotiations with the decision maker in relation to these.
Environmental Management Plans
Environmental Management Plans are prepared to be implemented either before, during or after a proposed activity depending on the purpose of the plan. They identify and communicate risks as well as risk avoidance, mitigation or minimisation measures. A management plan also provides an agreed and formal framework in which the activity should be conducted in relation to environmental aspects and impacts. Within the framework, time frames, processes and procedures, roles and responsibilities are usually all identified.
- Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMP)
- Operational Environmental Management Plans (OEMP)
- Project Environmental Management Plans (PEMP)
Plans may also be prepared to address specific environmental aspects or form sub plans. Examples include:
- Offset Management Plan
- Rehabilitation Management Plan
- Revegetation Management Plan
- Flora Management Plan
- Weed Management Plan
- Fauna Management Plan
- Species specific Management Plan (e.g. Western Ringtail Possum or Black Cockatoo)
- Dieback Management Plan
- Foreshore Management Plan
- Erosion and Sediment Control Plan
- Storm water Management Plan
Fauna, habitat, flora, vegetation, dieback, weed surveys
Biological surveys (Level 1, 2, targeted or habitat surveys) along with dieback and weed assessments provide baseline data for assessment against relevant state and federal legislation. The exact nature of an assessment or survey (scope, scale and costs) naturally depends on the scale, nature and location of a proposal or site. Spring is typically the period in which flora and vegetation surveys are conducted to maximise the identification of flora. Out of season surveys may be conducted depending on the project and risk of threatened flora occurring. Some locations such as along the Swan Coastal Plain may require targeted Western Ringtail Possum (WRP) surveys or Black Cockatoo surveys for which specific methodology is required.
Fauna pre-clearance surveys
Pre-clearance surveys include services such ‘possum spotting’, fauna relocation, checking of hollows, or trench monitoring prior to and during clearing activities, by a licensed and experienced fauna specialist. These are typically an approval condition and required appropriate record keeping and reporting to the Department of Parks and Wildlife (WA). SW environmental have a blanket Regulation 15 license for the south west for last minute clearing works. Otherwise these licenses may take up to 20 working days to be approved if applying for them on a project by project basis.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Spatial queries, modelling and mapping
GIS is a very powerful tool to develop, query, display and disseminate spatial information and datasets. As environmental services are often related to the identification, assessment and management of tangible environmental aspects (such as vegetation, habitat, odour, wetlands, weeds), well developed GIS skills and services are essential. Examples of everyday GIS use includes
- mapping of vegetation or fauna habitat type and condition, site plans, impact areas, constraints, habitat values, flora and fauna records, dieback interpretation.
- detailed calculations for remnant vegetation remaining, impacts over areas, risk assessments, local area impacts.
- 3d tools for view sheds, line of sights, fly overs, visual impacts, bushfire asset protection zones, digital terrain modelling, ground water modelling.
These include auditing construction activities against an environmental management plan or set of environmental conditions. They are typically required for major projects.
Visual Impact Assessment (VIA)
VIA and photomontages
VIAs are typically required for major projects, or sensitive or contentious proposals and are usually specialist reports to supplement general impact assessments. Using GIS software and graphics packages, 3d analysis of viewsheds and line of site assessments are used along with field surveys and photo montage preparation to identify potential impacts and mitigation measures. Existing visual amenity and landscape character are considered and quantified. The proposed impacts are also quantified and assessed against the criteria to determine if proposed visual impacts are acceptable or require mitigation. Recommendations are provided to reduce visual impacts. Proposed energy infrastructure developments such as new transmission lines, wind farms or solar farms are typical examples of developments that may require VIAs.
Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Assessments
BALs assessments are required to help you determine your Bushfire Attack Level using the Australian Standards AS 3959 (2009) Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas. FPA Australia and BPAD endorse training which has been completed by SW Environmental.
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