A Critical Evaluation of Impact Prediction Practices

Introduction  

This coursework exercise promotes directed learning on impact prediction practices in Environmental Assessment. It is intended to allow you to develop a detailed understanding of impact prediction for specific environmental components. It is also designed to promote the development of research skills (such as methodology development and critical analysis) that you will employ in the near future when undertaking your dissertation. Coursework task   Working on an individual basis, you must produce a   research paper for submission on Thursday, Week 10 (November 26th).  

The title of the research paper is: “A Critical Evaluation of Impact Prediction Practices” This title is fixed – under no circumstances should you change it. The research paper should critically evaluate impact prediction practices in a number of published environmental impact statements (EISs). You should investigate impact prediction practices for one environmental component and examine how it is covered in three EISs. You will not receive extra credit for looking at more environmental components or more EISs.  In order to critically evaluate impact predictions practices you will need to collate some basic data on the key elements of impact prediction. This may include:

  • Methods used to identify impacts; Methods used to assess impacts; Methods used to evaluate significance; and the types of mitigation measures proposed.  The research paper should be no more than 3,600 words in length. It should be structured as follows: abstract (max 150 words), introduction, methodology, results, discussion, conclusions, and references.  Please note that you must make use of the literature (i.e. journal articles, books, etc) within this paper in order to develop a satisfactory level of critical evaluation. (Based on the definition included in the EU EIA legislation, the term environmental component is taken to encompass: human beings; fauna and flora; soil; water; air; climate; landscape; and, material assets and cultural heritage.)  
  • Case studies. A number of EISs have been made available to you electronically through a ‘dropbox’ folder which has been shared so that you can connect.  The following EISs have been placed in the dropbox folder:  Bedford Energy Recovery Facility 2009.  •Berkley Nuclear Power Station: Construction of radioactive waste storage facilities, 2007. •Clach Liath wind farm 2012.  •Kirkcaldy Sea Wall Improvement works 2013. •M5 Junction 29 2009  •Madgwick Land and Stane Street 2014.  You are permitted to use other EISs in your research (e.g. those available from the internet). However, we do require that all EISs used are written in English and are publicly available.  Remember, you need to select three EISs from those available to you and examine impact prediction practices in these three EISs only. When downloading these from Dropbox, please do ensure that you have copied them and not moved them (in which they will be unavailable for other users).
  • Learning objectives. The exercise is designed to complement the taught component of the unit by providing an opportunity for individual research into how impact prediction is carried out in practice. It is also intended to promote the development of research skills that you will have to employ in the very near future when undertaking research for your dissertation.  In summary, the principal learning objectives of the exercise are:  To further develop an understanding of impact prediction for a range of environmental components, in both an applied and academic manner; To consider the adequacy of current practice; and, To promote the development of research skills. Definitions of terms used in ENV marking criteria Knowledge. This is the lowest level of intellectual and academic development, but is of course the foundation for effective learning. It requires and uses students’ powers of memory and recall. It represents a database of facts, principles, ideas and arguments. Comprehension. This is the lowest level of understanding. The student has the basic factual knowledge and can use that knowledge in specific, limited contexts, but the capacity to relate to, to develop, and therefore to connect various bits of knowledge is limited. Students’ learning often comes across in assessed work as rather short, fragmented lists of points relevant to a particular issue.
  • Application. This intellectual skill allows the student to draw upon, and use appropriately, a wide range of knowledge to address the questions and issues they meet. The knowledge involved is in part   factual, but also includes ideas, concepts, principles, technical expertise, or theories.  
  • Analysis. This skill represents the capacity to take apart information, arguments and ideas, the ability to generate and tackle ‘questions with questions’ in order to discover and investigate the basic   structure of an idea, to reveal hidden meanings, problems and issues. The student is able to distinguish between fact and opinion and to proceed accordingly. The student has the ability and the confidence to stand back and look for logical consistency, completeness, relevance and usefulness.  Synthesis   This represents the ability to appreciate ideas and conceptual arguments; to dissect them, to identify the underlying assumptions and methodology, and to appreciate the logical, often hidden or unstated implications. The student has the capacity to engage in constructive, critical assessment of ideas and arguments. The student has the ability to build on the   component parts of an idea in order to develop further ideas.  Evaluation  This is the highest level of understanding and intellectual and academic development. It involves the ability to come to personal judgements based upon the available ‘facts’, information and views. It involves intellectual ‘problem solving’; the willingness, desire and ability to select from competing alternative solutions by systematic evaluation of the alternatives.

Advancement in technology has led to the immense growth of industries and urbanization globally. Consequently, the rate of pollution and environmental degradations has increased significantly, and it has impacted negatively on the components of the environment especially water. The need addresses the problem has led to the establishment of studies and environmental impact assessment evaluation process. It has also been imperative to examine the impact prediction practices regarding water quality in every development activity in most parts of the world. EIA in many countries is utilized as a management tool in environmental assessment.  The evaluation of EIA in most developing nations is a neglected aspect. It is currently a mandatory prerequisite to developing and publish a high-quality environmental impact statement that has considered all environmental components such as soil, air, water, flora, fauna and even human beings. The quality of the EIS is essential in the EIA process.

Introduction

Purpose of the Paper

            The research paper critically evaluates impact prediction practices in three environmental impact statements.

The main objective thus, is an evaluation of impact assessment prediction practices on water as an environmental component, in three EISs. A complete investigation of the effect prediction practice will be performed in the identified three EISs. The primary prediction stages entail:

  • Identification of impacts
  • Assessment of impacts
  • Evaluation of significance of the impacts
  • Mitigation measures

All the three EIS’s will be investigated given the contextual analyzes. The three EIS’s under investigation are:

  1. Kirkcaldy Sea Wall Improvement works, 2013
  2. M5 Junction 29, 2009 
  3. Berkley Nuclear Power Station, 2007

Literature Review

EIA Concepts

EIA can be characterized as a procedure by which data about the environmental impacts of an activity or a project is gathered, both by the designer and from different sources, and considered by the pertinent choice, settling on the body before a choice is made on whether the project advancement ought to proceed (Chadwick). EIA is one of ecological impact evaluation tools to minimize an anthropogenic effect of project activities on the environment. The aim of the process is to portray the ecological effects of improvement proposition and in this way forestall, decrease and balance any opposite effects. EIA is considered as a participatory procedure utilized to distinguish and assess the likely natural results of advancement proposition keeping in mind the end goal to encourage calculated choice making and economic improvement. Effects on the environment can prompt changes in prevailing conditions. The progressions can be found at diverse natural and social levels, can shift over time and space. Direct effects allude to changes in ecological parts that outcome from direct cause impact results of interactions between the activities and the environment. Other effects result from reason impact outcomes of the connections between nature and direct effects. For instance, the effects of contamination may not just be seen specifically in the loss of neighborhood vegetation, however, as a degeneration of the well-being and social structure of nearby individuals. Total effects allude to the amassing of changes in nature brought on by human exercises, for example, past, present and proposed exercises, incorporating exercises connected with the task of evaluation (Glasson). The progressions happen over time and can be realized by ecological impacts. An effect or impact can be depicted as the adjustment in a particular environmental component, which comes about because of a particular movement or intercession. The change is the distinction between the ecological parameter with a project in place contrasted with when it had not been operational. It is anticipated or measured over a predetermined period (Androulidakis).            

Impact prediction and assessment is a fundamental phase of an EIA where issues recognized through project evaluation are investigated and expected effects are characterized. The aggregated learning and the discoveries of the direct examinations shape the premise for the forecast of the effects. The prerequisites for accurate forecasts are not as a matter, of course, met given vulnerabilities in the information and an absence of gauge information…

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