There are a number of features of the natural environment that will want protecting from development.
A natural habitat is an area of nature where an organism or an ecological community can live and where it can find food, shelter, protection and mates for reproduction. Natural habitats are very important to take into consideration when planning development as they are not to be interfered with by humans. Natural habitats should be protected, not destroyed. Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to species diversity and the natural world that we live in. A large proportion of Britain’s natural amenities have already been destroyed for construction and now environmentalists are attempting to restore as many natural habitats as possible.
Wildlife is native life that exists within a geographical location. Wildlife maintains an ecological balance between food chains and food webs. Wildlife contributes in the maintenance of carbon and nitrogen cycles that are processed. Many people see wildlife as a natural beauty, lighting up scenery and making the environment look established. Wildlife provides us with a number of useful products like food and medicine. There is a wide range of wildlife in Britain, for example, birds, seals, whales, fish, snakes, otters, all which are left alone to ensure they develop within their distinguished environment. This means limiting human intervention. If humans disturb wildlife too much, it can cause some species to be extinct.
Heritage can be seen as physical elements that have cultural significants, relating to things of historic or cultural value that are worthy of preserving for the future. Heritage is very high valued and is unique to a certain time or location in history. Heritage is not just land; it is also the structures that stand upon it. This includes the following: battlefields, ancient monuments, castles, bridges and archaeological sites. It is extremely important that we take care of Heritage for the benefit of our future generations to enjoy and remember distinguished moments in history.
A green belt is an area of green land that surrounds a community and provides an attractive and aesthetic appearance. Green belts are often used as zones between different land uses to help maintain a clean, fresh and natural land that all of the community can experience and enjoy. Green belts are commonly found around larger cities. The main purpose of the green belt policy is to protect the land from urban sprawl. Green belt land is protected.
Water for human consumption is mainly extracted from reservoirs. This water then has to be treated before it can be classified as drinking water. Water is distributed around the UK using a system of pipework. Water cannot contain any harmful elements such as bacteria, as this could have an immediate effect on people’s health. In many foreign countries water tends to be bottled as mineral water due to the short supply of pure, fresh and clean water. In the UK we use drinking water to flush toilets. Water quality is often determined by the journey that it goes through to get to the aquifer, meaning it avoids getting infected with materials that can be harmful.
A forest is a large area covered primarily by trees and undergrowth. Forests are an important part of Earth’s climate system. Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their trunks, roots, leaves, and forest soils. Besides providing habitats for of animals, forests can also help prevent flooding. During times of heavy rainfall, forests can help absorb water and slow flood flows down, which in turn prevents damage to land and buildings.
A pre-construction environmental impact report is an initial assessment of the natural environment that must be considered during the planning stages of the construction project. An environmental impact report can also be known as an environment impact assessment (EIA). There are a number of different stages in an EIA, all of which are very important as they exam what impact the construction project will have on the natural environment and how to go about mitigating the impact.
(The first stage is screening. Screening basically means looking at construction project and seeing whether it would be necessary to carry out an EIA, giving a brief reason why.)
For this construction project to go ahead, we (ABC developments Ltd) would need to carry out an EIA, as the located area is known as a “green belt” unspoiled landscape. Green belt land is highly protected; therefore our EIA would have to be carried out thoroughly.
(The second stage is scoping. Scoping is a way of deciding which impacts must be assessed. This will vary depending on the project and location.)
For this construction project, we would identify all the potential impacts that could occur and have a negative effective on a number of different environmental features. Below is a list of all the environmental features that we would need to assess.
Ground water quality
(The third stage is the baseline study. Baseline study is a way of collect data on the current state of the area. This takes into account physical, biological, socio-economic and cultural factors.)
For this construction project, we would look for a variety of evidence to state that certain elements are present in the located area. Taking samples of the ground is a great way of highlighting what’s underneath the surface, especially if we are unsure. We can never rely on previous data assumptions. We always collect our own data against the stated elements in the scope. We would intentionally use subject matter experts, like local authorities to provide us with the knowledge. Biological features are always good to look for as they can indicate to us that there is wildlife present. Other than actual sightings, animal droppings and mole hills can be used as evidence to state that wildlife is present.
(The fourth stage is the impact prediction. Impact prediction is a way of highlighting what the consequences are if the project goes ahead.)
There are many possible consequences that could occur if we don’t plan the development carefully. The possible consequences include the following:
Habitats could be ruined and destroyed, leaving some animals vulnerable.
Soil quality could be ruined and PH levels could drop dramatically, causing nutrient degradation.
Plant species could be destroyed, meaning they won’t be able to contribute in helping to regulate atmospheric gases through a process called photosynthesis.
Water pollution could occur if reactive materials and substances spill into waterways, potentially killing aquatic species.
Air pollution could occur if harmful substances are released into Earth’s atmosphere. Air pollution can cause diseases, allergies or death of humans. It may also cause harm to other living organisms such as animals and plants, damaging the natural environment itself, which would be devastating for a green belt.
(The fifth stage is mitigation. Mitigation is a way of reducing consequences and preventing a negative impact. It is also important to state alternatives and if needs be, redesign the project.)
For this construction process we would use a variety of different mitigation measures to effectively change the impact of the development. Below is a list of all the mitigation measures that we would adopt, but before doing anything, we would make sure all environmental features have been identified.
We would make sure required protection measures are present on site (e.g. signs and fencing). This is done for awareness, so that the environmental features within the site are recognised.
We would phase out and direct site clearing activities, especially when transporting materials and fuels. This will ensure that wildlife and the landscape are not destroyed by any heavy moving vehicles.
We would introduce large physical containers on site to store any potentially polluting substances that can cause serious harm to the environment if spilt. A good example would be a bunded fuel tank. Although these tanks are deemed safe, we would still keep them well away from existing environmental features such as habitats and waterways. Also we would provide regular serviced spill kits on site as a secondary safety element.
We would put into place physical barriers to prevent ruining water from washing harmful substances into waterways.
We would create temporary and permanent conservation habitats for already existing animals that are seen to be native, all depending on the location of the development.
We would give guidance to workers on how to deal with wildlife encounters, including any species at risk that may be present, as well as arranging methods for dealing with injured or orphaned wildlife.
We would often use the pre-stressing method as mitigation measure for wildlife. Pre-stressing is used to encourage wildlife to move away from a site prior to the development works. The most common methods of pre-stressing include walking around site, making a loud noise, or placing pieces of clothing that carry a strong human scent into animal dens.
The greatest disruption to wildlife generally occurs when the site is getting cleared, removing most of the existing habitat. The timing of site clearing should be carefully examined, due to the fact that wildlife will be more sensitive at certain times during the year. The table below shows the sensitive times for wildlife in various different habitats and states what the recommendations are for reducing the impacts of construction.
If possible, development work should be completed effectively outside of the known sensitive timing windows, which in turn reduces the risk of impact to moderate.
In some cases development may occur during the sensitive times of the year. This would mean that we would have to introduce additional mitigation measures to reduce the impact to wildlife. Additional mitigation measures include the following:
Introduce more intensive pre-stressing to encourage local wildlife to leave the site area.
Installation of suitable nesting boxes around the outside edge of the site, to intentionally replace current nesting sites that will be removed in the development works
Qualified and trained agents on site to provide monitoring during development works
Pre-arrangements made with wildlife rehabilitators and qualified veterinarians to ensure appropriate care of orphaned or injured wildlife.
By doing all this it means that the wildlife’s safety and wellbeing is a priority.
Monitoring and Assessing
(The sixth stage is monitoring and assessing.)
We would monitor and assess the environmental features on a regular basis as things are always evolving.
It is extremely important to address the environmental issues surrounding a construction project. This is in turn will benefit the community and the individual construction firms. By addressing the environmental issues, it will help boost the construction firm’s reputation with the local community and authority. Individual construction firms should use locally sourced materials that can be used without negatively affecting the environment. By using locally sourced materials it also means that there is less need to travel and transport materials. It is essential that these locally sourced materials are renewable and non-toxic, so that they are deemed safe for the environment and for the local community. Ideally these materials should be recyclable.
Metals for example, can be extremely damaging to the environment, especially over several years. A lot of metals are not biodegradable; therefore, they would have to be effectively removed as they are not capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms. Wood on the other hand is both biodegradable and recyclable, as well as being nature’s most versatile building material due to its applications becoming more and more advanced.
Communicating clearly with sub- contractors is essential when using locally sourced sustainable materials. It is important that sub-contractors use these materials appropriately, ensuring that they are not wasted. Sub-contractors should be given lists of suppliers that they can use, especially if local authorities have a say on what type of materials should be used.