Water Utility Services
The scale of the current and future investment in the upgrade and expansion of our country’s water and wastewater infrastructure is unprecedented. Demands are growing, in terms of water demand, the demand for wastewater treatment capacity, and the environmental demands to ensure works in and around sensitive waterbodies do no harm.
The water utility sector is facing ever-changing environmental and planning challenges, as it seeks to upgrade what is sometimes Victorian infrastructure for the 21st century and beyond. Environmental Impact Assessment, the EU Habitats Directive and the need to appropriately manage invasive species and environmental mitigation measures, are amongst the challenges the sector has had to come to terms with in recent times.
MKO have worked extensively with Local Authorities, Irish Water, firms of consulting engineers and civil engineering contractors to provide environmental and ecological services to this sector. Our experience ranges from minor projects exempt from planning permission but subject to the provisions of the Birds & Natural Habitats Regulations, up to larger water infrastructure projects and drainage schemes, requiring planning permission and also often Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA), EIA and and Stage 2 Appropriate Assessment. A key requirement of the sector is the prescription of appropriate best practice and mitigation to avoid any adverse effects on ecological receptors during the planning process, that can be translated into practical environmental protection measure on-site. We work closely with our clients to expedite the most efficient and cost-effective solutions to the ecological and environmental challenges that often arise.
Water Utility Services – Key Services
We prepare comprehensive and fit-for-purpose Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA) as either stand-alone reports or for use as chapters of an EIS/EIAR. The scope of each EcIA is tailored to the specific client’s requirements of their site and project.
They can be targeted at a specific ecological subject matter of relevance, or span the full spectrum of ecology, from terrestrial habitats, flora and fauna, to freshwater, marine and avian ecology. Our EcIA are solutions-focused, proposing ways to mitigate potential impacts rather than just identify problems. Our clients benefit from the EcIA experience we bring to their projects, from having worked on some of the country’s largest infrastructure projects.
The requirements of the EU habitats directive are well known to us, and we prepare Appropriate Assessment Screening Reports (AASR) as Stage 1 assessment/reports or Natura Impact Statements (NIS) as Stage 2 assessment/reports.
Our expert knowledge of the requirements, pitfalls and nuances of habitats directive assessments has been honed by completing many hundred such assessments/reports over the last decade. Our knowledge of the planning system, makes us acutely aware of the planning implications of conducting a Stage 2 assessment for developments that otherwise would not require planning permission. Given our experience, we can advise clients very quickly on whether a Stage 1 “screening” will suffice of whether a full Stage 2 “assessment” is required.
We survey, identify and propose management options for dealing with all types of invasive species. We do so primarily for civil engineering contractors, utilities or developers who must deal with invasive species during their project.
We also act for property, insurance and financial firms who need to assess any invasive species risks associated with their property interests. The initial surveys we conduct can be supplemented with on-site Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) staff during the construction stage, to ensure the invasive plant materials are being properly managed and costs of treatment, management and disposal and minimised. We bring a practical, experienced and pragmatic approach to every invasive species job.
They are also written to be practical and aware of the need to implement design and mitigation measures during a project’s construction/operation phase. We project manage client, design team and specialist inputs, and meet our client’s deadlines. Our EIA experience spans every industry sector. Projects and clients benefit from the combined experience of all our company’s staff, who have refined our EIA knowledge and practices over decades of work in this field.
As the ECoW (environmental clerk of works) on construction projects, we provide an on-site presence to assist contractors and developers get their job done, while ensuring that all required measures are implemented to meet any planning or regulatory requirements.
Our presence can by full-time or more occasional, as required by the scale of project, site sensitivity or client’s requirements. Our ECoW staff have the necessary experience to be able to translate written mitigation and design measures into practical, on-the-ground solutions to ensure the implemented measures are fit for purpose. We can take responsibility for on-site environmental monitoring (water, noise, dust, air), as well as all auditing and reporting duties.
Our bat surveying experience, equipment and expertise allows us to manage surveys from the most sensitive of locations to the largest of sites. We have invested in the latest handheld and remote identification technology and software, and use that to improve bat survey accuracy and result confidence.
Our team, which includes qualified bat handlers, conduct all types of bat surveys required, walked surveys, building inspections, remote surveys or a combination of all the above. Surveys are tailored to the site, the type of proposed development and the time of year. Monitoring devices can be left in place for weeks or months at a time, capturing long-period data across large sites, giving large amounts of data that would otherwise be very costly to capture via surveyors.