Environmental management plans in EIA

12th April 2012

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  • EMS ,
  • Stakeholder engagement ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Biodiversity



Pegasus Planning's Simon Chamberlayne explores the important role that can be played by environmental management plans in environment impact assessment (EIA)

Increasingly, and quite rightly, planning authorities and consultees are looking for methods by which to secure the environmental benefits and enhancements of development projects.

Environmental management plans provide a platform for developers and project proponents to actively engage with statutory consultees and local stakeholders prior to the submission of a planning application. Such plans offer an opportunity for stakeholders to identify their aspirations for a development and provide a mechanism for on-the-ground implementation, environmental enhancement and management of a site.

EIA determines the issues applicable to the proposals, and results in appropriate strategies to control or avoid environmental harm. Mitigation and management measures for all environmental management topics can be consolidated in an environmental management plan which can be given statutory effect through formal approvals.

EIA incorporates development of an environmental management plan and is an established process for:

  • ensuring that proponents take primary responsibility for implementation of environmental commitments;
  • forming a basis for statutory decisions on whether a proposal should proceed (the environmental management plan can be part of a statutory approval); and
  • determining the basis for ongoing environmental management and monitoring should a development proceed.

Construction environmental management plans describe a series of measures which a developer will commit to during the construction phase of a development. The plan should provide details of the legislation which construction activities will comply with and draw together the mitigation measures identified during the EIA process to avoid or reduce the environmental effects of construction actives.

Such plans also provide a useful handover tool to contractors to ensure that environmental impacts are managed during the construction process as a contractual obligation.

Environmental management plans which relate to the operational phase of a development can be used to set out a vision demonstrating how its introduction will result in benefits to the environmental resource and to local communities. It can also show how landscape and ecologically sensitive elements in a site and its surrounding area will be safeguarded and enhanced.

Aims of an environmental management plans typically include:

  • improving and enhancing landscape features of a site;
  • reinforcing a site’s character;
  • improving a site’s visual amenity;
  • increasing the amount of biovidersity on a site;
  • providing shelter and new habitats;
  • enhancing recreational activities such as walking and cycling; and
  • protecting archaeological and cultural heritage.

Examples of enhancement activities that can be included in environment management plans include, for example, enhanced planting and introducing new recreational facilities.

Enhanced planting can benefit the local environment by providing greater physical continuity to a landscape; strengthen existing features, creating more shelter and encouraging and supporting wildlife and flora. The reinstatement of historic hedgerows where there are gaps, is just one example of enhanced planting. Such repairs can be made simply and effectively, and managed throughout the life of a development.

Recreational facilities can be introduced through the creation and enhancement of public rights of way. New way markers can be installed to help direct walkers and cyclists, for example, or permissive rights of way can be identified to create recreational opportunities and allow connectivity into the wider network.

The overall objectives of ecological enhancements should be to:

  • increase the amount of biodiversity on a site;
  • consolidate and strengthen the value of wildlife corridors;
  • improve a site to enable plant life and wildlife to flourish; and
  • strengthen the position of those species already present and encourage new species of flora and fauna to establish themselves on site.

Sites often include undesignated heritage assets which offer the opportunity for management and enhancements measures to be implemented simply and effectively. Simple enhancement measures can typically include the provision of interpretative signage material positioned so as to highlight the existence of any heritage assets.

In summary, environmental management plans offer developers, consultees and authorities a formal platform by which to ensure that mitigation and enhancement measures identified during the EIA process are implemented during both the construction and operation phase to create a better development.

This article was written as a contribution to the EIA Quality Mark’s commitment to improving EIA practice.

Simon Chamberlayne is a principal environmental planner at Pegasus Planning Group


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