As governments worldwide commit themselves to a green energy future, ever more public and private capital is being funnelled into renewable infrastructure projects. While this will serve to reduce global reliance on fossil fuels, it is important that it does not come at the expense of the earth’s fragile and precious ecosystems.
In accordance with the UN’s 2030 Goals for Sustainable development, protecting and maintaining the biodiversity of our planet must be at the core of planning when it comes to building a greener future. In its oversight of the Tina River Hydro Development Project in the Solomon Islands, ESC is demonstrating the importance of environmental consultancy in the transition towards renewable energy reliance.
Tina River development
The Tina River project is part of The Solomon Islands’ 2016 – 2035 National Development Strategy and will see the construction of a 15MW hydropower plant on the river, due for completion in 2024. The plant will serve as an abundant source of renewable energy for Honiara, the Islands’ capital city, generating an estimated 68% of its electricity. Not only will this reduce the Island nation’s reliance on diesel power, but will also reduce energy costs for its citizens, lifting countless families out of poverty.
However, to ensure that the environmental impact of the project is minimised, financing from international institutions such as the ADB, IDA, World Bank, and IFC comes on the condition that a thorough Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is carried out during the planning phase.
ESC’s role in protecting biodiversity
As part of the ESIA, ESC has been tasked with overseeing a Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP), designed to mitigate any disruption to the wildlife and ecology of the surrounding area during the construction phase. ESC’s role as environmental consultant sees it in charge of reviewing and updating the impact mitigation measures outlined in the ESIA, and developing an implementation and training strategy to make sure that there is a consistency of approach among all project stakeholders. ESC is also studying the terrestrial and aquatic environment around the construction site, and updating the BMP based on its findings.
ESC’s work at the Tina River site is ongoing. Once completed, project stakeholders will have a clearly defined set of actions and responsibilities to control the impact of their activities on the ecology of the project’s surrounding area. Any residual impacts of the development will be offset to ensure that there is no net loss of biodiversity, and in the case of critical habitats, to ensure net gains where feasible.
Green light for green infrastructure
The Solomon Islands’ Tina River Hydro Development Project is just one example of where ESC’s comprehensive and integrated environmental, health, and safety solutions are giving nations across Asia the green light to build the infrastructure they need to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. As environmental consultant to governments and private institutions throughout the region, ESC is helping to make sure that the development of this vital infrastructure does not come at the expense of the continent’s rich biodiversity.
If you would like to know more about how ESC can help your organisation fulfil its environmental, health, and safety regulatory requirements, contact us here.