A significant emphasis has been seen in the past decade for maintaining or enhancing landscape values (rural, coastal, heritage) in various planning guidance and policies. In many cases an assessment of landscape and visual amenity values (including any potential impacts that may arise due to a proposed development) is extremely useful in informing proponents, regulators and the stakeholders of the socio-environmental footprint. Relevant guidance information includes:
- The State Planning Policy No. 2 (Section 5.9);
- The State Planning Policy No. 2.5: Land Use Planning in Rural Areas;
- The State Planning Policy No. 2.6: State Coastal Planning Policy;
- The State Planning Policy No. 3.5: Historic Heritage Conservation;
- The Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) Environmental Assessment Guideline 8: Environmental Factors and Objectives; and
- Various Local Planning Policies and Frameworks relating to valued landscape character.
The Orebody 31 Project
360 Environmental was commissioned by BHP Billiton Iron Ore in early 2015 to undertake a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment for its Orebody 31 project, which has recently been recommended for approval by the EPA. As Landforms and Amenity were considered as Preliminary Environmental Factors by BHP Billiton Iron Ore and the EPA, 360 Environmental was engaged to undertake a comprehensive review for areas or locations with potentially significant visual amenity or landscape values. This was aided by our previous experience in conducting similar assessments in the Pilbara, both at a local and regional scale as well as from a broader, strategic level.
The assessment methodology used was consistent with guidance on assessing Landscape and Visual Impacts recommended by the West Australian Department of Planning. A slightly modified approach was used to suit the various stages of mining, from a baseline assessment of existing impacts, an assessment of predicted impacts (including cumulative impacts and their management during operations) and concluding with residual impacts and their management post-closure.
The images above illustrate the 3D site model used in the assessment (overburden storage areas in yellow, pits in red and processing infrastructure in blue).
The image above illustrates one of the outcomes of the assessment to a hypothetical sensitive receptor (viewing location), demonstrating areas of overburden landforms visible (yellow), pit areas visible (red), and natural landscape views blocked out (brown). Grey and black areas denote areas always visible and always blocked, irrespective of the development. Assessments like these enable sensible, cost effective, targeted approaches to the management of potential amenity and landscape impacts.
The findings of the assessment demonstrated that potential impacts from the project were unlikely to affect visual amenity and landscape values of surrounding sensitive receptors (including the township of Newman).
Some other examples of the results of the assessment are shown below.
Actual result of the most impacted site. Note that a very small area of the overburden landform may be visible on a clear day. The assessment indicated that only 1.1% of the total views from this location may be affected.
The images above illustrate a photo-montage (artist’s impression) of the proposed development from a sensitive receptor. This is often done as a method of evaluating amenity impacts. Note that the potential impact is extremely low.
We pride ourselves on our ability to deliver flexible solutions based on a client’s needs, and the contextual setting of a project while still meeting or exceeding regulatory objectives for landscape or visual amenity impacts and providing a positive benefit to the environment. We are suitably experienced and qualified in undertaking similar landscape and visual amenity assessments for a diverse range of industries (energy, agriculture, and infrastructure) and at various scales (strategic, regional or local).
If you would like to discuss your specific needs, please feel free to contact us.
Telephone: +61 8 9388 8360