Environmental Impact Assessment in the Oil and Gas Industry
An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a process for identifying, predicting, and evaluating the potential ecological impacts of a proposed project or activity. EIAs are typically required for major projects likely to have significant environmental impacts, such as oil and gas exploration and production.
An environmental impact assessment in the oil and gas industry ensures that environmental considerations are taken into account early in the planning process and to help decision-makers make informed choices about whether or not to proceed with a project. EIAs can also help to mitigate or avoid potential environmental impacts.
When is an EIA required?
In the UK, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required for oil and gas projects that are likely to have significant environmental effects. The EIA process is designed to identify and assess a project’s potential environmental impacts and develop mitigation measures to reduce or avoid those impacts.
The EIA process is overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The BEIS has published a list of projects that are automatically considered to have significant environmental effects and for which an EIA is therefore required. These projects include:
- The construction of new onshore and offshore oil and gas fields
- The expansion of existing oil and gas fields
- The drilling for oil or gas
- The hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale rock to extract gas
- The construction of pipelines to transport oil or gas
- The construction of refineries to process oil or gas
- The burning of oil or gas
In addition to these automatically-listed projects, the BEIS may require an EIA for other oil and gas projects not on the list. This may be the case if the project is likely to have significant environmental effects, even if it does not meet the criteria for an automatic EIA.
The EIA process is typically carried out by a specialist consultant. The consultant will prepare an EIA report that describes the potential environmental impacts of the project and the measures that will be taken to mitigate those impacts. The EIA report will be made available to the public for review and comment.
The BEIS will then consider the EIA report and the public comments before deciding on whether to grant permission for the project.
The EIA process is a valuable tool for ensuring that oil and gas projects are developed in an environmentally responsible manner. By considering the potential environmental impacts of a project early in the planning process and by taking steps to mitigate those impacts, companies can help to protect the environment and ensure that their operations are sustainable.
Why is an EIA in the oil and gas industry necessary?
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process for identifying, predicting, and evaluating the potential environmental impacts of a proposed project or activity. EIAs are typically required for major projects that are likely to have significant environmental impacts, such as oil and gas exploration and production.
The purpose of an EIA is to ensure that environmental considerations are taken into account early in the planning process and to help decision-makers make informed choices about whether or not to proceed with a project. EIAs can also help to identify ways to mitigate or avoid potential environmental impacts.
Some of the reasons why an EIA for the oil and gas industry is important include:
- To protect the environment: Oil and gas production can have a significant impact on the environment, including air pollution, water pollution, land disturbance, and noise pollution. By conducting an EIA, companies can identify and mitigate these potential impacts. Offshore oil and gas fields can also result in oil spills that can harm the marine environment, so steps must be taken to minimise this risk.
- To ensure sustainable development: The oil and gas industry is a significant contributor to climate change. By conducting an EIA, companies can identify ways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable development.
- To build public trust: The oil and gas industry has a history of environmental problems. By conducting an EIA, companies can demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection and build public trust.
- To comply with laws and regulations: By completing an EIA, companies can ensure that they are complying with all applicable laws and regulations.
The EIA process can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it is an essential tool for protecting the environment and ensuring that development is sustainable. By taking the time to conduct an EIA, companies can help to ensure that their operations are environmentally responsible.
What are the stages of an EIA?
The stages of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) typically include the following:
- Screening: This is the initial stage where the proposed project or activity is evaluated to determine whether it requires a full EIA. The aim is to identify projects that have potentially significant impacts on the environment and require further assessment.
- Scoping: Once a project has been screened, the scope of the assessment is defined. This involves identifying the potential environmental impacts and issues that need to be addressed in the EIA.
- Baseline data collection: This stage involves gathering data on the environment, such as air and water quality, plants and animals, soil composition, and other relevant factors, in the project area. This data is used to establish a baseline against which potential impacts can be measured.
- Impact assessment: This involves identifying and assessing the possible effects of the project or activity on the environment, taking into account the baseline data, the scope of the assessment, and any relevant regulatory standards.
- Mitigation measures: Includes identifying actions that can be taken to avoid or minimise negative impacts and to enhance positive ones. This may involve modifying the project design, implementing pollution control measures, or developing plans to manage the implications of the project.
- Report preparation: This stage involves compiling the findings of the EIA into a report that is submitted to the regulatory authority or other designated body for review and decision-making.
- Decision-making: The regulatory authority or other designated body reviews the EIA report and makes a decision on whether to approve or reject the project or activity and under what conditions it may proceed.
- Monitoring and review: Once the project or activity has been approved, ongoing monitoring and review is conducted to ensure that the mitigation measures are effective and that any unforeseen impacts are addressed.
Why choose Collington Winter?
Our environmental consultants are up to date on all of the relevant EIA legislation, ensuring we provide our clients with the most current and appropriate advice and assistance on their projects.
We offer practical solutions to clients in all sectors all across the country. Our priority is to work closely with clients to provide a first-class service, meeting the developers’ needs while ensuring positive outcomes for wildlife and the environment.
If you are interested in learning more about the services we offer or wish to undertake an environmental impact assessment in the oil and gas industry with Collington Winter, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via the form below. You can also reach out to our Ecology Director, Olivia Collington, at firstname.lastname@example.org.