Good Example Of Environmental Impacts Of Building A New Airport Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Environment, Airline, Airport, Assessment, Construction, Development, Noise, Carbon

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/02/03


Environmental impact assessment (EIA) plays a significant role in predicting the consequences of the environment arising from a plan, policy or program. This assessment is usually done before a decision has been made to move forward with the plan. Environmental assessment is useful in enhancing sustainable practices. An impact assessment proposes a set of measures that can be employed to adjust various impacts to levels that are acceptable. It assists decision makers to determine whether to carry on with the proposed plan or policy. Building a new airport is associated with various environmental implications (Wathern, 2013). In this regard, an environmental impact assessment helps to identify social and environmental impacts that accompany the construction of new airport. Against this backdrop, EIA helps to support the global goals of environmental management. It also predicts the project’s impacts on the area in which the airport is being constructed. These impacts can be social, environmental, cultural and economic. In addition, EIAs helps to mitigate predicted negative impacts that may arise from the proposed construction of an airport. This paper explores importance of environmental assessment in building a new airport.

Environmental Impact Assessment for airports

EIA assessment encompasses a number of issues that include locality, natural resources and risks. The assessment determines the potential impacts, operation mitigation, design mitigation and construction mitigation. In the case of airports, the physical changes in the locality include topography, land use, changes in water and bodies. The design of the airport should be made in a way that it does not change the topography or land use. A resource management program needs to be developed under the operation design (Petts, 2009). This is meant to utilize any advantages arising from feasible opportunities. The purpose of this goal is to minimize the rates of consumption of fuel, electricity and potable water. This reduction in consumption can be enhanced by the use of natural lighting, low flow appliances, energy saving equipment and dual water systems. An airport design should utilize solar photovoltaics to lower the cost of electricity. Existing facilities should be considered for use in the design to lower the creation of excess burden that might involve unnecessary costs. EIA can propose the use of new generators that are capable of using bio-diesel. The constructor can be mandated to take various measures aimed at minimizing the use of resources.
The use of hazardous materials like oils, paints and pesticides can pose serious environmental impacts. Asbestos may also be found in building materials and this may cause environmental impacts. Poor practices in handling substances like waste oil are major causes of concern in most airports. In this regard, EIA can propose a hazardous materials management program to reduce the impacts of harmful exposure to chemicals. Implementing this program ensures proper use, collection and disposal of chemicals or materials that may present danger to the staff at the airport (Glasson et al., 2013). The program can also outline spill response plans, procedures and training on the best ways of handling such chemicals.
EIA can also propose fuel storage systems such as diesel tanks that are designed in line with the best industry practices. Such storage systems can have leak detection. EIA may propose strict requirements for the contractor regarding handling and disposal of harmful materials. The contractor may have a spill response plan and trained personnel to ensure proper handling of these materials. If EIA is not done to this effect, the lives of staff working at the airport as well as the passengers may be put at risks.
EIA involves examining the solid in the process of construction, operation and decommissioning. The solid wastes may arise from demolition of buildings, excess overburden, local garbage and international wastes arising from aircraft operation. In this regard, a proper assessment ensures the development of a solid waste management program. This program helps to reduce solid wastes and propose ways that can ensure proper handling and disposal of solid. The program can also facilitate disposal of international waste. EIA can propose a design mitigation that ensures proper handling of the solid waste and distinguish it from wastes that arise from international aircraft waste (Chester & Horvath, 2009). The design can also ensure recycling of wastes where possible. In respect to the solid waste challenge, EIA can oblige the contractor to reduce the production of solid waste and maintain a clean environment during the process off construction. On the same note, EIA can oblige the contractor to carry out considerable demolition and ensure proper reuse to reduce the amount of disposal wastes.
EIA explores the release of harmful or hazardous wastes into the air. The impact of hazardous wastes into the atmosphere cannot be gainsaid. The emission of carbon into the air has been a sensitive issue in international debates on climate change. That excess carbon emission is harmful to human health cannot be doubted. This is the reason global conferences have been held with a major theme of reducing carbon emission. These initiatives have bore little success since most countries still emit carbon due to increasing number of industries. Emission at airports is caused by vehicles, dust from construction activities, installation of generators and aircraft landings and takeoffs. Other sources of emission include ozone depleting substances and operation of asphalt batch plants (Neofytou et al., 2006). Thus, carrying out EIA against this backdrop would ensure the development of an air quality program to limit the adverse effects of pollution. The program can understand the emissions at the airport and initiate priorities that seek to improve the air situation. Such initiatives may include an inventory that contains ozone depleting substances. EIA may also recommend the development of a maintenance program to inspect the cooling systems and hinder the growth of mould and mildew. On the same note, the program may help to maintain areas in the airport that may be prone to water leaks. Reducing these impacts requires power generator emissions that meet minimum IFC standards. The design used can ensure that the cooling systems will use no ozone depleting substance. EIA can propose that a contractor takes appropriate actions to minimize the emissions of air and excess generation of dust during construction. In this regard, asphalt plants used in building a new airport can be subjected to permitting requirements.

Noise and vibrations

EIA involves assessing noise and vibration. Such noise usually emanates from construction activities, outdoor lighting, taxis, aircraft takeoff and landings. To prevent such noise, the EIA may propose the development of an aeronautical noise management program. The program can monitor current and future noise footprints. It can also enhance a close working relationship in which local planners can avoid putting land developments and aircraft operations on a collision. The impact assessment may suggest the use of natural lighting and a review of the outdoor lighting to ensure that it shielded (Wiedmann et al., 2007). The contactor of the new airport may be required to reduce the noise emanating from construction site and any vibrations that may arise from the construction. This can be done by planning the routes that the tricks would follow during the period of construction to limit noise. This can reduce the impacts of construction to the community around the proposed site for airport construction.

Risks of accidents

EIA helps to examine risks of accidents. These accidents may occur during construction or operation of aircraft. These risks can consequently affect human health and the environment. Thus, construction of airport requires accident prevention plans, emergency preparedness as well as response to ensure that such risks are limited. In this regard, EIA may propose the development and implementation of a public and employee health and safety program. The program can focus on preventing accidents that may occur during the construction process. The development of emergency response plans can ensure timely response to emergencies (Wathern, 2013). In this regard, EIA may require the contractor to have a health and safety program in place. This program can highlight high risk activities and the response mechanism so that they are avoided before they occur. This plan would help the response teams to prepare adequately for disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

Consequential development

The construction of a new airport cannot take place in a vacuum. There are bound to be other developments once a new airport is underway. Such developments may be accompanied by environmental effects that may have far reaching implications in the locality. Such consequences may include an increase in the number of passengers which may ultimately lead to increase in the number of tourists. For example, tourists in the Bahamas increase to 60% following the expansion of Lynden Pindling International Airport. Numerous development projects occurred in the locality following this expansion. In this regard, EIA may require the contractor consider impacts on the availability of resources due to many projects that may accompany the construction of a new airport. The contractor may be required to obtain permission for the removal of habitat in proposed site for the airport. This can be possible if a habitat and wildlife management program is proposed in the environmental impact assessment.

Heathrow’s expansion plan

A report by the London airport commission revealed expansion of Heathrow airport would lead to more flights and more passengers as well as increase the level of carbon emission into the atmosphere. The airport commission recommended that a new runway be constructed in the South East England by 2030 to achieve this mission. However, this proposed idea of construction was viewed as increasing the level of emission into the atmosphere. In 2011, 5% of UK’s emissions were attributed to aviation. This accounted for 33.3 megatons of carbon. This figure was considered an increase compared to the previous years, an outcome that furthered frustrated the UK’s determination to reduce its carbon emission 80% in 2050 according to the Climate Change Act (Glasson et al., 2013). The Committee on Climate Change admitted that staying under this goal would mean that the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere does not exceed 38 megatons. Thus, constructing a new runway would contribute additional 8.3 megatons of emissions and jeopardize the 88 megatons target. This means that expanding existing airports to carry more passengers or building new airports would affects the global goal; of reducing carbon emission and increase the environmental hazards.
The report also observed that expansion of Heathrow would increase its already large size and worsen the environmental challenges. According to the European Union, the quality of air around the airport is below the standards that EU requires of its airports. This means that unless proper environmental impact assessment is carried out, the negative consequences derived from airport construction might outweigh the gains (Glasson et al. 2013). Despite efforts to reduce the number of cars around the airport, the consequences of emissions to the environment persists. The Mayor of London commissioned a study that found out that Noise is also a significant factor around Heathrow airport. The study revealed that the number of people that the noise would affect would increase by over 300000 if the airport is expanded.

Environmental Impact Assessment in the United States

In the United States, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) set up a policy of environmental impact for the federal agency actions. The law set up the council on Environmental Quality. Actions by both federal and state agencies are subject to environmental impact assessment. These actions are usually preceded by NEPA process. NEPA requires that statements be disclosed regarding prospective impacts. NEPA process ensures that the person making the decision is informed on the environmental consequences before a final decision is made. In this regard, building a new airport would require the agency responsible to carry out a comprehensive environmental impact assessment to ascertain the viability of such a project or undertaking (Petts, 2009). Within NEPA framework is environmental assessment (EA) that determines if an action by the federal agency would affect the environment. EA is a public document that offers evidence and analysis on the appropriateness of environmental impact statement. EA demonstrates whether an agency has complied with NEPA in cases where no EIS is required. In addition, it also facilitates the preparation of an EIS.


The centrality of environmental impact assessment in the design of policies and programs cannot be gainsaid. EIA plays a pivotal role in informing decision makers about the best options regarding the development and implementation of programs and policies. Thus, carrying out EIA prior to construction of an airport is necessary.

Reference List

Chester, M. V., & Horvath, A. 2009. Environmental assessment of passenger transportation should include infrastructure and supply chains. Environmental Research Letters, 4(2), 024008.
Glasson, J., Therivel, R., & Chadwick, A. 2013. INTRO TO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSES. Routledge.
Neofytou, P., Venetsanos, A. G., Vlachogiannis, D., Bartzis, J. G., & Scaperdas, A. 2006. CFD simulations of the wind environment around an airport terminal building. Environmental Modelling & Software, 21(4), 520-524.
Petts, J. (Ed.). 2009. Handbook of Environmental Impact Assessment: Volume 2: Impact and Limitations (Vol. 2). John Wiley & Sons.
Wathern, P. 2013. Environmental impact assessment: theory and practice. Routledge.
Wiedmann, T., Lenzen, M., Turner, K., & Barrett, J. 2007. Examining the global environmental impact of regional consumption activities—Part 2: Review of input–output models for the assessment of environmental impacts embodied in trade. Ecological Economics, 61(1), 15-26.

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