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What is a Base Line Study?

A base line study a desk based or field study that establishes the state of a site and / or its surrounding area prior to any works or development taking place.

Baseline studies are generally undertaken for Environmental Impact Assessments, but the nature of the study will change depending on which element of the impact assessment the baseline study is being carried out for. . .

Transport Baseline Study

A typical baseline study of a transport assessment might consist of a traffic survey, but it is sometimes possible to use secondary data which is sometimes made available from the government surveys of major roads, or perhaps even from a recent report in the area.

If a traffic survey is required then it is important to realise that there are different types of survey, and that the number of survey locations will also change from area to area. For example and automated traffic count might be used on a road, but a manual traffic count will be required for analysis of a junction.

Noise Baseline Study

A noise baseline study is typically carried out over a week long period, it is a foundation of a good noise impact assessment . It involves placing 1 or more monitoring devises on or around a potential development site to monitor for "average" noise levels.

It is important to establish a baseline noise level because quite often the proposed development is allowed (for example) 5db (decibels) over the ambient level. And if you do not known what that level is then you will not be able to work out a post development level.

Air Quality Baseline Study

Air quality is a hot topic (at the time of writing - 2016) with many councils insisting on air developments being safe places to live with regards to air quality. NOx is a particular problem in Cities. London has a great deal of air pollution, but Glasgow was recently rated the worst city in the UK for Air Quality.

An air quality baseline study is perhaps one of the most difficult to organize because unlike the above mentioned studies, atmospheric pollutants are strongly influenced by the wind and weather, as such it is sometime required that a baseline study be conducted over an entire year period! But for the most part a month is sufficient to satisfy most planning authorities.  

Ground Water Baseline Study

Taken from BGS Document: Groundwater prior to the industrial era (before c. 1800) emerged as springs or was taken from shallow wells, whilst the deeper reserves were in a pristine condition. The water first encountered using modern drilling practices would have had compositions reflecting true baseline determined only by geological and geochemical processes. Only rarely is it possible to find such waters because the majority of groundwaters sampled in the present study are derived from aquifers, which have been developed for decades.

The challenge in baseline is to recognise the impact of any human activities over and above the natural baseline in the data sets used. The approach adopted is threefold:

(i) to have evidence of groundwater age

(ii) to extrapolate data series back to an initial time

(iii) to use indicator elements in the groundwater, known to result from human activities. *

*The most probable indicators of human activities are enhanced TOC and N species – especially NO3 – the presence of substances such as agro-chemicals or industrial chemicals. The sets of data are examined for these substances as a clue to the presence of “contamination”, although it is difficult to quantify this. Even where traces of contamination are present, this may have little impact on the overall chemistry of the groundwater.