Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is a method for identifying the ecological features likely to be affected by a development and assessing the potential impacts to them. An EcIA is often included in a larger Environmental Statement as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The process of EcIA for a development involves the following stages:
- Scoping – the consideration of development proposals, initial research into the local ecology to find out which species and habitats are present, and defining the scope of surveys and assessment to provide sufficient information to assess potential impacts.
- Baseline – surveys and desk study to establish the presence, distribution and status of ecological features. The scope of the surveys will depend on both the development proposals and the species or habitats with the potential to be affected.
- Important Ecological Features (IEF) – we assess the baseline information to determine the conservation value and importance of the features recorded; only those of sufficient value are considered further in the EcIA.
- Impact Assessment – we assess how all aspects of a development could affect IEFs and determine whether or not these effects are ‘significant’. For larger developments this can include construction, operation and decommissioning phases.
- Mitigation – if potential significant impacts cannot be designed out of a development, we develop mitigation to reduce the impact to an acceptable level. Sometimes it is necessary to compensate for impacts, and most developments are also required to provide biodiversity enhancements.
The whole process is iterative and we work closely with our clients to develop solutions. Our EcIA work is led by expert practitioners and Chartered Environmentalists (CEnv) and follows Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management guidelines.