White Desert Environmental Impact Assessments

Guiding legislation

Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991)

In 1991 in Madrid, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties  signed the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991)  (the Environmental Protocol), which put forward the environmental protection issues as the most critical obligations of the Parties of the Antarctic Treaty. The Protocol designates Antarctica “as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”.

The Environmental Protocol includes a number of Articles and a number of Annexes:

  • Article 3 Environmental Principles

Sets out that activities should be planned and conducted on the basis of ‘information sufficient to allow prior assessments of, and informed judgements about, their possible impacts on the Antarctic environment’. The  overall aim of the Environmental Protocol is to ensure the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment.

  • Article 8  Environmental Impact Assessment

Relates to Environmental Impact Assessment and defines three levels: less than a minor or transitory impact, minor or transitory impact or more than a minor or transitory impacts. One of its guiding principles is that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be carried out before any activity is allowed to proceed.

  • Annex 1 to the Protocol on Environmental Protection Environmental Impact Assessment

Sets out the detailed regulations for EIA in Antarctica, with three different levels of assessment based on the levels of impact. The three levels are:

  • Preliminary Assessment
  • Initial Environmental Evaluation (IEE)
  • Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE)

Our IEEs

Based on the above legislation, White Desert has undertaken a number of environmental impact assessments in the form of an IEE, since our operations began. An IEE is  required to be carried out for activities which are likely to have a minor or transitory impact on the Antarctic environment and is submitted to the relevant national authority for review. The national authority also makes the final decision on whether the activity should proceed.

In July 2020, White Desert submitted an updated IEE Report to the  Polar Regions department of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, in relation to our future planned activities.

A link to this report can be referred to here:

White Desert , Initial Environmental Evaluation (IEE) Update Report 2020, July 2020

Supplementary figures

This most recent report updates and supersedes previous IEEs we have undertaken.

For historical reference, the previous reports can be referred to here:

White Desert Appendix 2 Wolf’s Fang Runway IEE, South Pole and Atka Bay Visits Initial Environmental Assessment, August 2017

White Desert Wolf’s Fang Runway IEE, Final April 2016

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