Freshwater impact assessments

Impacts on freshwater environments resulting from development need to be identified early in the planning process so that they can be avoided and/or managed carefully.

Projects likely to have a significant impact on fish and aquatic habitats in the UK must be assessed to comply with Town and Country Planning legislation, the Water Framework Directive and other regulatory requirements.

Thomson’s aquatic team deliver scientifically robust and regulatory compliant assessments including freshwater Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA) and Water Framework Directive (WFD) assessments.

Aquatic Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA)

An aquatic Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is a process that aims to identify the environmental impacts of a proposed activity, project, policy or plan on aquatic environments, and to ensure that the relevant authorities have the information they require to make informed decisions with regards to granting permissions and consents.

Our scientists have a depth of technical expertise that covers the impacts of the following on aquatic ecosystems:

  • channel and flow modification
  • effluent discharges
  • piling and noise from other construction activities
  • sedimentation
  • stormwater/surface water run-off
  • water abstraction.

Water Framework Directive (WFD)

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is a piece of European environmental legislation that requires that member states work towards achieving ‘good’ ecological and chemical status for all ground and surface waters. States must also avoid the deterioration in status of waterbodies. It is therefore a regulatory requirement that any project, plan or policy must ensure that the aims of the WFD are not undermined.

The assessment of status under the WFD considers the following elements:

  • biological quality (aquatic flora and fauna)
  • hydromorphological quality (channel and bank structure, continuity / connectivity and river bed substrate)
  • physical-chemical quality (water temperature, dissolved oxygen and nitrogen compounds)
  • chemical quality (environmental quality standards for specific pollutants).

It is important to establish existing conditions for each WFD quality element in order to determine the likely effect of a project on individual elements, or overall WFD status.

Thomson’s freshwater team provides clients with a range of ecological, water quality and hydromorphology services that assess compliance with the WFD, and determine if proposals will affect WFD status.

Our services, supporting WFD assessment include

  • ecological surveys
  • catchment walkover surveys
  • habitat mapping
  • water quality studies.

Thomson staff have project managed and delivered aquatic EcIAs and WFD assessments for major infrastructure projects across a range of industry sectors including

  • commercial development
  • highways
  • power generation
  • rail
  • residential development
  • water treatment and supply.

To discuss your requirements or to find out more about the freshwater impact assessments that we offer, please contact us today!

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