Effective Mitigation Measures for Environmental Impacts

21 November, 2019 | Blog

TRION MARK CLARKE

Senior Environmental Expert

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Regardless of the industry you are in, if you have been associated with a development or expansion project, you have likely been involved in some type of environmental assessment. Projects requiring such assessments include:

  • Developing a new mine or expanding an existing one
  • Building a new power plant
  • Extending an LNG pipeline
  • Building a new transmission line

An environmental assessment (EA) is used to predict environmental effects of a proposed development before it is carried out. The key objectives are to:

  • Identify the project’s potential environmental effects.
  • Propose measures to mitigate any adverse effects.
  • Predict whether or not there will be significant adverse effects, after implementing mitigation measures.
  • Introduce a monitoring or follow-up program to check the accuracy of the environmental assessment and effectiveness of mitigation measures

A critical component of the EA process is identifying suitable mitigation for any related negative impacts. This applies to impacts on the physical or socio-economic environment and may apply to any environmental component, whether aquatic, terrestrial or social.

Mitigation measures might be necessary in the following cases:

  • Developing, operating or maintaining hydroelectric installations because of changes to water flow or levels that can have an impact on fish and their habitat
  • Installing a settling pond or effluent outfall for a mine
  • Smaller projects, such as a pipeline water crossing or placing an intake for a pump house

When negative impacts occur on land, measures will be needed to mitigate impacts to wildlife and wildlife habitat caused by clearing vegetation to accommodate project components. Rare, at-risk plant species and terrestrial species must also be protected.

Mitigation measures may be needed to alleviate socio-economic impacts such as:

  • Revenue losses for businesses with restricted access during construction
  • Loss of a location’s recreational use due to project components
  • Impacts to archaeological sites or Indigenous traditional use and sacred sites

In some cases, mitigation may be incorporated into process design (up-front mitigation). An example would be a scrubber or a wastewater treatment system (part of the process design). In other cases, mitigation measures will be separate from the process because they can be implemented in a different location. An example of this would be the construction of new fish habitat to replace existing areas that may be lost or impaired by the development of a hydro facility. 

In order to be effective, mitigation should be preceded by the collection of adequate baseline data and proper assessment of environmental impacts associated with the project. Effective mitigation should:

  • Address specific impacts (not be arbitrary).
  • Be practical (technically and financially feasible).
  • Be properly developed, designed and implemented.
  • Be agreed upon with regulatory bodies and possibly other interested parties.
  • Be measurable; this is the only way you can know if it is actually effective.

Mitigation measures reached in agreement with regulatory agencies will typically be included as conditions in project permits, approvals or authorizations.

Benefits of effective mitigation measures include:

  • Reduction or elimination of environmental impacts caused by the project
  • More timely receipt of permits and approvals
  • A lower risk of non-compliance penalties or lawsuits, which can be costly
  • Social licensing

Here at BBA, we have environmental and engineering experts with years of experience designing, developing and implementing effective mitigation measures in the energy, mining and oil and gas sectors. Contact us to see how BBA can help you with your next mitigation challenge.

This content is for general information purposes only. All rights reserved ©BBA

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