Strategic Environmental Assessment
Since the introduction of the SEA legislation in 2004, CAAS has been at the forefront of developing techniques for the preparation of Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) for plans and programmes. We have undertaken hundred of SEAs for every level of the planning hierarchy from local land use plans through regional planning guidelines to national infrastructure strategies. We prepare and advise on all aspects of SEA from screening and scoping, through to the preparation of the final SEA Statement – often offering these services in tandem with other assessments such as AA, SFRA and LCA. This provides considerable economies and efficiencies on account of overlaps in activities such as meetings, surveying, mapping and consultation. Our in-house Impact Assessors have pioneered mentoring and training for Local Authority officials to carry out in-house SEAs.
We provide advice on all aspects of Appropriate Assessment (AA) to comply with the requirements of the Habitats Directive. We have prepared hundreds of AAs for every level of the land use planning hierarchy – from Local Area Plans to National Infrastructure Strategies. Our AAs are usually directly linked with our work on SEAs – which provides an effective and efficient input to policy development. We have also carried out numerous project level AAs. This work includes preparation of screening and scoping reports as well as the preparation of all stages of assessment. Our in-house ecologists also assist in the evaluation of AAs lodged by applicants. AAs typically encompass Stage 1 Screening AA Reports and, where required, Stage 2 Natura Impact Statements/Reports. They may also include Stage 3 Assessment of Alternative Solutions and Stage 4 Assessment where no alternative solutions exist and where adverse impacts remain. They are sometimes referred to as Habitats Directive Assessments.
Environmental Impact Assessment
We assist with all stages of the EIA process including screening, scoping and preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment Reports (EIARs) on behalf of applicants and reviews of EIARs on behalf of consent authorities. We have pioneered best practice techniques in this sector. We guide clients and designers to avoid or reduce impacts, while also providing evidence-based assurance about the project to the public and consenting agencies. We continue to refine and develop our approach in response to emerging issues, regulations, and court judgements. We provide full or partial advice and support for all aspects of EIA: - Strategic Guidance on Impact Avoidance – through early involvement in site selection and project conception - Screening of projects to ascertain whether EIA is required or not - Scoping to determine the range of issues to be assessed in an EIAR, usually involving consultation with stakeholders including statutory agencies. - Preparation of full EIARs – including commissioning, management and editing of all specialist inputs - Supervision of EIARs and co-ordination with design and planning teams - Specialist Reports on individual EIAR topics, such as Human Beings, Flora & Fauna, Material Assets, Landscape and Interaction of Effects
We work with planners all over Ireland on the incorporation of Flood Risk Assessment into all levels of land-use plan – from regional to local. This work is typically linked with our work on SEAs and AAs during plan preparation and review. We have developed innovative approaches in response to challenges that have emerged from practice. Our emphasis is on the integration of flood issues into plan policies and objectives. This approach follows and complies with the requirements of the national Flood Risk Management Guidelines and includes: Stage 1 – Flood Risk Identification Stage 2 – Initial Flood Risk Assessment Stage 3 – Detailed Flood Risk Assessment and a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment report
Landscape Character Assessment [LCA] as well as Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment are a speciality of the CAAS service. We have prepared the LCAs for over a quarter of the counties of Ireland as well for the Howth Special Amenity Area (one of only three SAAs in the country). We have also been extensively involved in the preparation and advancement of guidelines and policies on this topic, nationally and internationally. Our in-house Landscape Architects offer training, mentoring and advice on all aspects of Landscape Character Assessments – these services include analysis, mapping and the development of landscape policies and objectives for incorporation into Development Plans.
Guidelines & Training
We provide training workshops and programmes as well as guidance material on all of our major areas of specialisation. We have delivered tailored training for Local Authority personnel and staffs of agencies such as An Bord Pleanála and the Environmental Protection Agency. We have also delivered workshops for the public and elected members on their roles and understanding of land use planning and environmental requirements and procedures. We have prepared guidelines from statutory national guidelines for EIA, to national Tidy Towns guidelines and local informal design manuals.
Planning Application Preparation
We offer a uniquely ‘hands on’ approach to the management and running of our projects. We have a core group of staff who are extremely experienced and knowledgeable. We provide constant contact to Clients and complete familiarity with projects. While mainly serve the engineering, industrial and infrastructure sectors, we have a particularly strong track record bringing large-scale projects from initiation through to post-planning compliance. We are also involved in smaller-scale projects – ranging from planning appeals and submissions to general planning advice. Our principal activities are - Specialist planning advice to large scale projects and developments - SID planning advice to strategic infrastructural developments - Planning Application Compliance we provide responses to standard queries on planning application forms - Pre-application planning advice including consultation with Planning Authorities and An Bord Pleanála - Planning submissions and appeals - Environmental Impact Assessment and Appropriate Assessment - Appropriate inputs to related permitting applications including Discharge Licences etc. - Site evaluation reports and due diligence studies - Masterplanning
Ecological Impact Assessment
An Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is a report produced to identify, quantify and assess the potential impact of a project on a)Its ecological environment (i.e., a proposed site for development as an ecological entity itself and its connection to its surrounding environment); b)The key ecological receptors of a site (for example, any sensitive/protected species, or key hydrological habitats etc.); and, c)The ecological functioning of a site (i.e., the natural processes and services which are derived from the site in its existing state). EcIA reports can become part of an EIA assessment (under Council Directive 85/337/EEC), or be produced as standalone reports, to inform a project on the sensitive ecological features on site, and provide recommendations on implementing the project while retaining the identify important ecological features of a site (for example: bat species, high value grassland or freshwater habitat), and/or important contributory ecological features (for example: woodland patches / hedgerows which may provide ecological connectivity with the wider landscape). In this way, EcIA reports can also be produced to examine and ensure the compliance of a project with the requirements of local, regional and national land use objectives or biodiversity targets. EcIA reports can also serve to inform and support our production reports to inform the AA process. Our team provides advice and services on all aspects on the production of EcIA reports and we have experience conducting EcIAs for a wide variety of public and private infrastructure developments. We have in-house expertise in habitat, bat and insect surveys, and in obtaining the input of additional relevant experts where required. We also conduct in-house data analysis, data interpretation and GIS mapping, ensuring the production of comprehensive, detailed EcIAs, which are tailored for each project and site, and supported by the best scientific methods, literature, and specialist ecological surveys.
Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMP)
A Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) is a site-specific plan developed to ensure all necessary measures are identified and implemented in order to protect the environment and comply with environmental legislation. We assist in the development of the detailed environmental measures during construction. This includes the analysis and advice on implementation of environmental commitments included in a planning application, planning conditions and subsequent compliance submissions. We provide advice on the intended contractor environmental management/monitoring protocols/procedures to ensure adequacy of compliance proposals. Review of and input into contractor’s environmental proposed environmental (planning) compliance training & information if required. We are in the position to offer a post-commencement compliance submission audit of environmental compliance during construction. This service involves assessing contractor’s compliance with the full set of environmental commitments made in any Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) and the Natura Impact Statement (NIS) or associated documentation, taking account of the conditions attached to the grant of planning permission.