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Keep the public on side


NEW PIPELINE projects can cause concern - particularly when it comes to environmental impact. Dr Janet Swan, principal consultant at Pipelines 2002 exhibitor RSK Environment, says careful route planning is fundamental to reducing the environmental impact of a pipeline.

Speaking at a recent Institute of Ecology & Environmental Management (IEEM) conference, Dr Swan said the most significant impacts could generally be reduced at the routing stage of the project.

Not all projects require a full environmental assessment or even the submission of an environmental statement. But project sponsors increasingly take a proactive approach to consultation to allay the fears felt by those living on or near the pipeline route, she said.

'To many people living in a rural community, the biggest worries about pipeline construction arise through fear of the unknown, ' said Dr Swan. 'It is, after all, a major construction operation. But if we take time to explain to people what will be involved, most of those fears will vaporise.'

Typical concerns include a range of social and environmental issues such as noise, dust, mud on the roads, traffic congestion, safety, adverse effects on the local ecology and archaeology, and loss of amenity.

Dr Swan recommends that as well as contacting local residents and landowners and organising public meetings, project managers should also offer members of the public the chance to visit another pipeline project so they can see for themselves how it has affected the local environment.

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