HOW CAN 3D GIS BE USED TO BETTER STORE, INTEGRATE AND COMMUNICATE RESULTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENTS?
In the United Kingdom, the process of conducting the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a legal requirement for projects of considerable size or those that can affect the environment. EIA results are presented as an Environmental Statement, which includes multiple long reports often covering thousands of pages on large developments and includes complex information that is hard to understand for the intended audience of planners and the general public. To facilitate understanding, environmental professionals often use 2D maps. However, this approach is only partially useful, as it is difficult to locate specific information or to identify information related to a specific location on a very large site. This paper presents a pilot study into whether 3D GIS provide an alternative to better present, integrate and communicate the EIA results, with specific focus on three core environmental datasets: noise, air quality and bats’ flight paths, in relation to the building model of a real world development site. We focus in particular on off-the-shelf technologies that would be available to a standard Environmental Consultancy not having access to bespoke development, and will be usable by the planners, public and other decision makers, and look at tasks including 3D georeferencing, integration and visualisation of the data to be explored. It was concluded that while 3D GIS has a potential for environmental modelling, current technology and standards of data collection limit the practical use of 3D GIS at this stage.