Mitigation Mythbusters explored the real life effectiveness of a range of mitigation measures commonly included in environmental impact studies (EIS). The forum was inspired by ongoing concerns about the use of standardised mitigation measures in EIS recommendations, with little regard for the effectiveness in avoiding or reducing impacts of individual projects. Ben Starr of O2 Environment and Engineering discussed erosion and sediment control and emphasised the need for site specific approaches, definitions of “best practice”, and overall effectiveness of erosion and sediment control measures in preventing sediment in runoff.
Kerry Westall, former environmental manager on the Airport Link project provided a case study of the struggles that arose when the likely efficacy of noise and dust management measures in the EIS was over-estimated. Kerry’s example also highlighted issues occurring when approval conditions are not clear, and how this can become highly contentious in a contractual setting.
Dr Martine Maron from University of Queensland critiqued the fundamental theoretical basis of biodiversity offsets, including the difficulties of establishing a baseline from which to calculate offset requirements. Finally, Marcus Koolen of Perfect Earth reviewed the trials and tribulations associated with revegetation and pointed out what can be reasonably achieved.
A spirited discussion ensued where environmental impact assessment practitioners considered how to address these issues in EIS documentation, given that a formulaic approach to EIS preparation has become quite entrenched.
The forum was a sell-out, with over 60 practitioners from consulting, industry and government backgrounds. Thanks to Arup for providing the venue and high quality snacks to fuel the post-forum discussion and networking.