Preliminary site assessments are undertaken to determine the most suitable land-use in terms of development and planning, or for construction purposes. This exercise is not only suited for large corporate projects, but also beneficial for individuals, especially those engaged in construction projects in urban areas where pressures on land are great. Furthermore, its best practice to include a section of environmental impact assessment of the proposed project when carrying out this exercise.
Scales of Assessment
Investigations in relation to land use can take place at various scales ranging from regional to project specific assessments. In most instances, regional investigations are undertaken on behalf of regional authorities to determine location and use of natural resources and establish the extent of environmental pollution caused by a certain event or activity. On the other hand, local site investigations are more specific and dwell on a particular project, for instance construction of an apartment in an urban area.
Environmental Aspect of Site Investigation
A preliminary site assessment is an important tool for obtaining information about a site and its surroundings. From an environmental perspective, the assessments are designed to evaluate whether the site poses any threat to human health and the immediate environment. The assessment relies on engineering surveying techniques to establish site boundaries and identify available utilities lines around the proposed construction site. Other salient factors considered are the land-use pattern in the area and whether there are local land use restrictions that may have an impact on the proposed project.
Nature of Site Assessments
Just as with any other investigation, preliminary site assessments commence with outlining the scope of the study, and identifying what type of information is needed or relevant. The level of detail required largely depends on the nature of the investigation. For instance, lesser site details are required during project feasibility exercises than when collecting data for engineering design purposes. In regards to this, various methodologies are employed depending on the purpose of the investigation. They include aerial photographs, remote sensing imagery, sample collection, subsurface exploration and geographical surveying, and in-situ testing. Once relevant data is obtained it is then processed to obtain information that is incorporated into project decision making.
The importance of preliminary site assessments includes:
Determine land boundaries and land-use patterns.
Provide crucial information of the environmental impact of the proposed project.
Provide a body of knowledge on the site that can be adopted during project planning and execution.