Environmental Appraisal and Impact Assessment

Any new major development such as a road, power station, pipeline, leisure facility, housing estate, transport corridor or business park both requires and generates major inputs from a range of sources including engineers, planners, environmentalists, legislators, local government and other regulatory and interested bodies.

The preparation of and participation in Environmental Statements (ES), Environmental Appraisals (EA) and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) require a combination of desk top studies, collection of field data, review of appropriate legislation, public consultation and the need, as directed, to identify the need for and specification of mitigation measures, development alternatives and outstanding environmental issues.

The type of data that might be required is diverse in the least: many environmental consultants remain confined to coloured maps and qualitative descriptions of their area of expertise and how these might be construed as impacts; preliminary engineering drawings are now prepared using sophisticated computer-based design software; topographic data is sometimes available in digital form while thematic mapping is usually small scale and paper-based; local authorities are often hindered by limited resources which result in a mixture of information types and accessibility.

Conventional scoping activities are far reaching and require extensive data collection and full compliance. Coordination, management, analysis and presentation of the diversity of data encompassed represents the key to a smooth development operation. For the site developer and for all those involved in the design process, such data collection represents an unnecessary burden and further complicates the demands placed upon them. These conflicts can be resolved through improved data access and management and through the utilisation of integrative tools for evaluation.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) offer the power and flexibility to enable all those involved to make decisions based upon all the information available. Close consultation with the relevant specialists ensures that appropriate weights are assigned to the various environmental variables; the subsequent filtering and presentation of the collected data as a series of options encourages full discussion and evaluation.

GISL Limited endeavour to ensure that GIS solutions are adopted at the earliest possible stage where relevant and that the necessary steps are taken to ensure that the adoption of such an approach is effective and efficient. This avoids unnecessary effort and facilitates both the design and the project management process. A full needs assessment or functional requirements study (FRS) is used to promote the correct database design, identification of data handling requirements, recognition of the diverse data sources embraced and the training or familiarisation required for all participants.

GISL Limited can also provide the one-stop solution for specification, procurement, design and installation of solution oriented systems. Other aspects that need to be addressed include identification of alternative data gathering options including airborne videography, satellite imagery and design of field data collection surveys.