Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
The Helping Hand Trust has undertaken EIAs for 20 years both in Gibraltar and Spain. The time frame and the amount of works involved depend on the demands of the respective employer as well as on the respective territory.
Truthfulness Despite Conflict of Interests
Many parties might be vindictive when undertaking an EIA - of course from an environmental point-of-view nature is preferable to buildings. Yet, the Helping Hand Trust has adapted the dictum to be as truthful as possible, to work together with developers and governments to the most possible extent. It is only with this attitude that the result will be to the benefit of all parties and nature alike. In the end it is not possible to stop tourism and development. With an EIA the Helping Hand Trust tries to find the best compromise for all parties and stakeholders involved.
The Procedures of an EIA
In the first place EIAs seek to find out whether the piece of land or sea in question harbours endangered species under EU law and if these might face global extinction via the development planned. Thereby the focus is not only on the impact on the area itself but also on the surrounding area, possible waste products and effects of the planned development. To guarantee a wholesome examination of the food chain of the area, the Helping Hand Trust brings in experts on certain fields, such as authorities on invertebrates, birds etc: If for example the stream of an area harbours microinvertebrates who feed endangered birds, then the bird might face uncertainty, too - a well detailed knowledge about this part of the natural circle is needed.
In the end it is a politician who decides, whether a development will take place or not, and if endangered species have priorities to the development. Of course a politician has other objectives than environmentalists: He might be motivated by wanting to boost the economy, creating employment or making an area attractive for tourists. So in most cases a development will take place in one form or another.
At this stage an EIA is not completed by far: If developers and environmentalists work closely together, they can find a solution which might be a beneficial compromise for all parties involved. A recent example is the Alcaidesa Golf Course.
An Example for Sustainable Development: The Alcaidesa Golf Course
A recent example of the multiple implications of EIAs is the Alcaidesa Golf Course in the South of Spain. The Helping Hand Trust alongside the authority on invertebrates, Dr Alfonso Gallardo-Mayenco, undertook an independent study for the Instituto de Estudios Campogibraltarenos (IECG). We scrutinized whether the redirections of streams and water sources on the territory of the planned golf course would have a negative environmental impact of the macro-wildlife.
The original focus of this study was on microvertebrates, but against all odds, we discovered a rare and protected species of eel in the streams: the common eel or anguilla anguilla . The anguilla anguilla is considered a delicacy and falls under the EU category of endangered species. The redirection of the stream would have cut off the eel from its natural migration pattern essential for its reproduction: The new-born eel takes three years to travel from the waters of the Saragasso sea to the fresh waters streams in Andalusia. After six years in the habitat in question it swims to the sea, mates and returns to the Saragosso sea to lay eggs - and the cycle begins anew.
Consequently and on EIA recommendations the water flows in Aldaidesa were fitted to continuously guarantee the welfare of this endangered species: With the current layout the eel is still able to migrate to Saragosso, while the development of the golf course went ahead.
Last but not least this example also demonstrates that one has to conduct an EIA with an open mind and let oneself be guided by what one encounters and not by what one expects. Of course the Helping Hand Trust also hopes that this openmindedness as well as the findings on the anguilla anguilla will be taken into account by other conductors of further EIAs in Andalusia and elsewhere. Not every species can be saved, but the example shows that you can save some species, when you work together.
Find Out More About EIAs by the Helping Hand Trust
The example of the golf course in Alcaidesa is one of many. The demands of a specific territory, the planned development and the developer are unique every time.