A proposed Wind Farm in the Snowy Monaro region seeking State Government Approval, required a ‘General Environmental Risk Analysis.’
The approvals team required additional independent expertise in construction and operational environmental risk assessment; as well as in-depth knowledge of legislative requirements.
The risk analysis would provide assurance to Government and communities that all key environmental impacts had been identified and assessed in detail in the Environmental Assessment (EA) report.
A multidisciplinary client and consultant team was formed to identify all construction, operation and closure activities.
Activities were reviewed to identify potential pathways for environmental impacts to occur. A likelihood and consequence environmental risk matrix was used to assess unmitigated risk.
The risk treatment hierarchy in ‘Handbook HB 203:2006 Environmental risk management – principles and processes’ was used to determine effective and feasible risk treatment options, and then the residual risk level was assessed.
The risk analysis confirmed all ‘key’ environmental issues had been addressed. It also identified some gaps. The risk analysis identified an internal road and water crossing had not yet been assessed, due to project redesign. This allowed potential biodiversity, water quality, heritage, noise and visual impacts to be assessed within the EA, prior to public exhibition.
The comprehensive ‘general environmental risk analysis’ provided confidence to both the regulator and the client that ‘other’ potential environmental impacts had been assessed. The wind farm was approved.
Due to the legislative knowledge and risk management expertise of the team, there was a focus on effective and feasible risk treatment options. This process turned an approval requirement into a useful wind farm planning exercise, allowing for quicker and less costly transition of approvals documentation into pre-construction, construction, operational and closure environmental management plans.