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The mitigation hierarchy

Sometimes developers don’t consider the mitigation of impacts early enough or perhaps jump to compensation as a way of dealing with impacts. When you begin to consider what mitigations you can put in place to deal with the impact, consider applying the mitigation hierarchy.

  • Avoid – at the early stages you can still consider design choices that ‘design out’ the impact.
  • Minimise on-site – during the design stage you can add in mitigations that minimise the effects of the impact at the site location, these could include pollution controls, water treatment, etc.
  • Minimise off-site – if you can’t abate at the site or the abatement at the site is not sufficient then consider what steps you can take at the outside the site location, visual impacts could be minimised by off-site planting, noise by offering double glazing to those residents within a certain radius of the development
  • Remedy – some impacts cause unavoidable damage and this is when you should consider reinstatement or repair, agricultural land may need to be dug up, trees may need to be cut down. You need to consider what you are going to do to leave the location in a better state than you found it.
  • Compensate – where the other mitigation approaches fail or are not sufficient you should consider compensation as a mitigation measure but this is a final approach and all efforts should be taken to minimize the impact in the first place.

The same lesson comes through in many of these articles, start early to avoid costs and delays later on.Note: An impact is a change in the physical, biological or human environment as a result of human activity.