Environment Impact: Aerial Tours Essay

Question:

Discuss about the Environment Impact for Aerial Tours.

Answer:

Introduction:

Environmental Impact Assessment, also known as EIA for short, encompasses a step by step process of gauging the impact of a business proposal on the environment. The motive behind this study is to discern some ideas to reduce any adverse impact on environment. UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) has sustained this concept as an acceptable approach to be used in the appraisal of a business proposal regarding its environmental impact. It facilitates alternative methods that are less deteriorating for the environment. The scope of EIA’s plans, programs and policies is increasing day by day.

(Morrison-Saunders & Arts, 2012)

Case study- Aerial Tours

A company named Aerial Tours wants to conduct an environmental impact assessment of its new business proposal before reaching to a final decision. The business line of this company includes carrying out operations of chairlifts and cable cars for tourists. The new proposal is to build a cable car with aerial features. It will be constructed at Adelaide Hills of Mt. Lofty. For this purpose, they have chosen to plant their base station at Waterfall Gully. The project also includes construction of a building at the base station from where cable cars will be operated and there will also be a room for ticket office. Besides that, towers at a specified distance and cable cars at a distance interval of 200 metres will also be assembled or created. So, an assessment is to be done regarding the proposition’s bearing on the environment.

A Brief of EIA Directives by EU in Context of Aerial Tours

Development Act, South Australia (1993) came into being to supervise the acts of organizations that may impact natural diversity adversely. It aimed at maintaining the construction of buildings so as to conserve natural wealth as well. Environmental impact assessment directives given by European Commission in 1985 cover many public and private enterprises and guide them if they need to conduct an assessment regarding environmental impact of their practices (Barker & Wood, 1999).

Annex 1 of environmental impact assessment directives (85/337/EEC) asks to conduct EIA mandatorily if a business proposal is having a serious influence on the environment. It has laid various criteria beyond which waste or damage created by any company is subjected to carry out EIA and identify alternative methods to reduce degradation. For such organizations, EIA is a prescribed activity.

If the company’s proposal comes under Annex 2 of EIA Directives, then EIA is considered as discretionary for them. This implies that the authorities will decide whether the company should go for EIA or not, depending on the severity and intensity of potential damages that can occur due to its business proposal. For this, they conduct a screening procedure that compares the company’s activities with the guidelines provided in Annex 2 (Bond & Wathern, 1999).

I believe Aerial Tours should be listed under Annex 2 since it will not have a major impact on the vegetation and flora- fauna resources of the locality. However, the construction of a large scale cable chair system will have an adverse impact on nearby water bodies and other natural resources. For example, construction of base line station will impact the natural foliage. So, a screening procedure is required to ascertain whether EIA should be conducted. Hence, EIA is ’discretionary’ for this company.

Scoping and Screening of Aerial Tours’ Proposal

While conducting an EIA for a company’s proposition, the first two steps to be acted upon are screening and scoping. Screening is about checking the validity of a proposal regarding environmental concerns. It gives advance warning regarding any environmental damage so that it can be mitigated. Then scoping is done to ascertain various influences (social, cultural or natural) in detail (Slootweg & Kolhoff, 2003).

Scoping Techniques

  • Checklist technique: Only the heads of environmental concerns are jotted down in a list and those options are checked which are being impacted by the business practice. Details can be added, if required. Such checklists are known as descriptive checklist. Further improvements in the technique also allow ranking these aspects according to relative significance.
  • Matrix technique: It encompasses the features of checklist and also provides a summary of entire study. Leopold’s matrix is an outstanding example.
  • Network technique: This technique presents interrelationship between environmental aspects and corporate activities. They are of different types like sequence diagrams, impact trees, etc.
  • Overlay technique: Mapping is used in this technique. Different plans are mapped and they all are studied simultaneously to give a composite effect.

(Snell & Cowell, 2006)

Scoping Matrix

Influencing factors

Activities related to the proposal of Aerial Tours

Base station

Cable cars

Towers

Ticket office

Physical factors

Land

7

-

4

3

Water

5

2

7

2

Air

2

3

-

-

Noise

6

7

3

2

Biological factors

Flora

4

2

4

1

Fauna

1

-

4

1

Socio- cultural factors

Accidents possibility

-

8

3

-

(Josimovic et al., 2014)

This matrix is inspired by Leopold’s matrix for environmental impact assessment. It has been prepared by first ascertaining different major activities of the proposal of underlying company. Then a screening procedure has been undertaken to identify various environmental aspects that are prone to degradation due to this project. Based on both the lists, various rankings based on the intensity of damages are given. Physical factors are considered to be the most prominent. Construction of base station will degrade natural land, hence given high ranking. Water bodies of nearby area will be impacted due to electricity or other requirements. Apart from this, if we consider biological factors, flora and fauna will be impacted mildly by the project’s operations. Accidents, under the head of socio- cultural factors, have been given high ranking due to high possibility of failure of cable cars as evident by past records. Besides that, noise pollution will also be a major factor to be considered. Although EIA is discretionary for this organization but it is recommended to undergo this assessment once (Wood, 2000).

Critical Component to Be Revised

I believe noise pollution and degradation of water bodies are the major factors. The company needs to revise their actions regarding these components. Some alterative operations should be looked for to reduce the adverse impact on the environment. For this, a detailed base line research is required. It should start from identifying the major issues of the above discussed components. Then, alternatives should be identified that can be implemented in this context. Those alternatives are also required to be evaluated thoroughly. Then, the best possible action should be chosen (Huettner et al., 2009).

References

Barker, A. & Wood, C., 1999. An evaluation of EIA system performance in eight EU countries. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 19(4), pp.387-404.

Bond, A. & Wathern, P., 1999. EIA in the European Union. Handbook of Environmental Impact Assessment. In Blackwell Science, Oxford. pp.223-48.

Huettner, M., Leemans, R., Kok, K. & Ebeling, J., 2009. A comparison of baseline methodologies for'Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. Carbon balance and management, 4(1), p.4.

Josimovic, B., Petric, J. & Milijic, S., 2014. The Use of the Leopold Matrix in Carrying Out the EIA for Wind Farms in Serbia. Energy and Environment Research, 4(1).

Morrison-Saunders, A. & Arts, J., 2012. Assessing impact: handbook of EIA and SEA follow-up. Earthscan.

Slootweg, R. & Kolhoff, A., 2003. A generic approach to integrate biodiversity considerations in screening and scoping for EIA. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 23(6), pp.657-81.

Snell, T. & Cowell, R., 2006. Scoping in environmental impact assessment: Balancing precaution and efficiency? Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 26(4), pp.359-76.

Wood, C., 2000. Screening and scoping. Environmental assessment in developing and transitional countries. pp.71-84.

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