KNOWING THE WATER & POWER SECTOR
WSP’s Matthew Steadman Jones has a wealth of water and power project experience across the Middle East. He reflects on some of the common challenges faced.
Environmental assessments are often initiated too late in the planning and design process, this is critical as construction cannot commence without the environmental permit.
To compound this, in some areas, the regulatory review and approval processes have no fixed time for response, it is critical to commission the environmental assessment early.
It’s often difficult to adhere to emission standards in some areas, due to existing poor air quality issues.
There is often an absence of historic scientific data which inform baselines, these help determine the impacts of a project, so intimate knowledge of the local area is key.
There is often a lack of stakeholder consultation through all stages of a project. This lack of transparency can
result in misunderstandings on the part of key stakeholders such as government ministries that may result in significant project delays. Stakeholder consultation is also an important tenet of the requirements of, for example, the Export Credit Agencies and it is therefore important to engage all pertinent parties early in the process and to keep them informed of any material changes in terms of project design.
Legislative instruments are not always clear in their requirements which may complicate the assessment of environmental impacts in terms of, for example, a facility complying with national emission standards. The situation is further complicated by a need to understand the impact/s of the facility in terms of adhering to international standards and guidance (where relevant). A lack of understanding may result in significant project delays - and costs - particularly in respect of re-engineering a facility in order to comply with such standards.
Parties involved may not be familiar with both local issues and regulations, as well as the international demands of organisations such as EPFI, ECA and IFC, all of these needs must be addressed to achieve financial close to move to construction.
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