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Mitigating the ecological impact of pipeline construction

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Posted on 21st November 2011

Avoiding Implementing excessive mitigation

Designing cross country pipelines to avoid ecological impact is key to successful capital project delivery. Failure to manage ecological risks from the outset can add significant cost and time to a project. Implementing excessive mitigation can make things even worse.

Very often ecological consultants who are not used to pipeline construction don’t always completely understand the differences between the temporary nature of the ecological impact as opposed to permanent development. Mitigation strategies should be developed that are proportional to the impact – if that impact is temporary – then the mitigation should be designed to reflect that. In many situations the methodologies proposed for temporary habitat disturbance are more appropriate for where permanent habitat loss is envisaged – the result being invasive and disproportional mitigation which in extreme cases can cause more impact than the work itself.

Most work for Ecological Consultancies involves the mitigation of permanent impact, be that the construction of housing developments or infrastructure schemes. It takes a different set of skills and understanding to mitigate the impact of pipeline construction, where an understanding of habitat reinstatement and restoration are crucial. There is a big variation in the impact different machines and working methods can have. The important thing is to understand this, so you can work to lower the impact as much as possible. Understanding the construction activities, opens up a variety of techniques that can be used to manage and mitigate ecological impact, such as using no dig techniques and enhanced soil handling techniques. Working closely with the main contractor on site is a vital component to this. We have considerable experience of working with the Water Industry and other utilities to devise ecological mitigation methodologies that are proportional and pragmatic, meeting the needs of our clients, and the needs of the Regulators. We have worked with many of the main contractors employed to deliver complex capital projects and are regularly successful in avoiding ecological impact during the design stages of a project. As a result, we provide a service that is right for the client, achieves first time, and is based on sensible and balanced solutions.

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