Assessing and protecting groundwater dependent habitat in Scotland using EIA

Gordon Robb, technical director at SLR Consulting, outlines assess potential impacts of development on water dependant habitat.

In addition to other statutory duties, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has a responsibility to safeguard abitats sustained by groundwater, known as groundwater dependent terrestrial ecosystems (GWDTE). 

Development, and in particular ground excavation, which can effect groundwater flow paths and groundwater quality has the potential to impair areas of GWDTE which are protected by the EU water framework Directive.

Without appropriate design or mitigation, excavations can intercept the groundwater table and divert groundwater flows away from areas of GWDTE or construction activities can introduce materials such as concrete or aggregate that can alter local groundwater chemistry and directly or indirectly impair GWDTE.

Assessment approach

In order to assess potential risk to GWDTE, Sepa has issued guidance to developers and for their advisors.

Sepa requires, as a minimum, a phase 1 habitat survey to be undertaken and provided as part of a planning application. The survey is used to identify wetland types. If it ...

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