Planning the job site
Taking the time to plan a landscaping job from the outset will make it easier to minimise environmental impacts as the job progresses.
Putting together an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) can be a useful start. You could use it to:
- identify any aspects of the job likely to cause environmental impacts
- set out the ways in which these impacts will be managed
- communicate, to anyone working on the site, what they need to do to protect the environment
- demonstrate due diligence (see How the laws affect you).
Planning is important for all landscaping works, no matter how large or small. An EMP could be as brief as one sheet of paper or it could be a lengthy document, depending on the size of the site and the nature of the works. The Model EMP: Environmental Management Plan for Landscaping Works may help with site management.
Erosion and sediment control
Your EMP should detail the specific methods and procedures you will use to control erosion and sediment on a site. This is often called an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan and is usually required by local councils.
Many councils require a Waste Management Plan to be submitted for approval with development applications. Your Erosion and Sediment Control Plan could include a simple sketch of the site.
This plan should include details of the site (e.g. boundaries, water courses, vegetation) and address the issues described in Controlling erosion and sediment. It should also describe how erosion and sediment controls will be maintained, and who will maintain them.
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During construction, plan ahead for the protection of existing vegetation and waterways.
If you are designing the job as well as building it, work out how you can minimise the amount of tap water that will be required for ongoing maintenance. For example, you could include rainwater collection tanks, retention ponds or water recycling systems, use heavy mulches and choose appropriate plants. (See Using water wisely).
A Waste Management Plan could be part of your EMP for the site, and should identify the type and volume of waste generated and how you intend to reuse, recycle or dispose of the waste. Getting smart about waste includes a table that could be the starting point for your Waste Management Plan.
Many noise problems can be avoided through good planning. The noise section of your EMP should identify anyone who is likely to be affected by noise from your site, and it should set out measures you'll use to reduce the impacts of noise. (See Controlling noise).
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The EMP could describe or include a diagram giving details about:
- existing vegetation to be preserved
- location of fences to prevent damage from machinery or vehicle movements
- areas that require mulching to prevent compaction
- any areas where materials should not be stored.
(See Choosing the right plants)
The EMP should list activities that may cause air pollution, including dust and odours, and it should provide details about how air pollution will be avoided. For example, the EMP may require that stockpiles are covered, and that dust catchers are fitted to equipment etc. (See Keeping the air clean).
Chemical use and storage
If any chemicals (including fuels) will be used or stored on site, it's important that there is a procedure in place for dealing with chemical spills. This procedure should be set out in the EMP and communicated to all staff and contactors on site.
Using and storing chemicals contains details of the issues that could be covered in this part of the EMP. Do you have a spill kit readily accessible on site?
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It's very important to consider site access and vehicle movements at the job planning stage because disturbances caused by vehicles can easily lead to pollution when it rains. The EMP might include:
- limiting vehicle entry to one point only
- controlling the areas within the site where vehicles and machinery can go
- mimimising vehicle and machinery access to disturbed areas of the site to prevent unnecessary soil compaction
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Material and waste storage
It's useful to plan ahead to work out where you will store materials and different types of waste. You might consider the following:
- Carefully plan where the different materials are to be stored ahead of time, to increase site efficiency
- Store all materials within the site sediment control zone and keep site storage to a minimum
- Separate materials that will be reused or recycled from those that will be sent to landfill
- Store 'landfill waste' materials in a self-contained bin, such as a skip, to avoid spills, leeching or site contamination
- Keep storage areas clean and tidy, and check each day for spills or leaks etc
The EMP can set out how the site should be kept clean and how often. Hosing footpaths and gutters is not acceptable - the EMP could require the use of brooms instead.
The EMP can also describe how the site will be cleaned up once the works are completed, and who is responsible for doing this.
- Your local council
- WorkCover NSW website or phone 131 050
- Managing Urban Stormwater: Soils and Construction, NSW Department of Housing, 1998
Page last updated: 27 February 2011