Performance Standard 6 aims to protect the ecosystems in the areas touched by the project.
The approach to biodiversity conservation in Russia has been driven by location of the project at a regionally protected area with Ramsar designation in the onshore and nearshore sections. In the first instance, a thorough assessment of potential alternatives was carried out to ensure that no feasible alternatives existed in modified habitats or natural but non-critical habitats. The second stage of the process involved a comprehensive evaluation of construction techniques and means to optimise and thus reduce impacts associated with the construction and operation of the pipeline system. From an initial conventional approach, which involved the clearance of an 85 m strip of land within the onshore section of the project, we have selected a construction technique that significantly reduces the loss of habitat and preserves the hydraulic regime of the area, which is the key factor for the sustainability of the terrestrial vegetation and habitats that support migratory and congregatory avifauna.
As part of the engineering evaluation, we also considered alternative trenchless construction techniques and documented the reasons why this method would have exposed the project to unacceptable safety and environmental risks.
Based on a detailed quantification of impacts to biodiversity we developed a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), which outlines an investment programme designed to achieve a net gain of biodiversity values in the Kurgalsky reserve. The BAP was disclosed to a range of stakeholders, including the administration of the Kurgalsky reserve, scientific institutions and NGOs.
The BAP entails the implementation of tangible activities in the following main areas: Institutional strengthening (developing a Kurgalsky reserve management plan), scientific research, habitat enhancement, sustainable tourism, and the management of invasive species.
A number of initiatives within this framework were launched in 2018, including a study to establish a management plan for the Kurgalsky reserve, a comprehensive survey of invasive species within and surrounding the reserve and execution of 85 km of firebreaks within the forested areas. The initiatives complement the ongoing telemetric monitoring programme to track behavioural patterns of ringed seals in the Gulf of Finland.
Legal requirements in Germany have been the main driver in the assessment of biodiversity impacts in this jurisdiction. Comprehensive primary biodiversity baseline studies were conducted both on and offshore. The primary surveys were supplemented by information from relevant authorities, academic/scientific institutions, other recognised external sources and desktop research to fully understand the biodiversity values present in the vicinity of the project. Stakeholder engagement has been undertaken according to German law: The permit application and supporting documents were sent to stakeholders including government authorities and environmental NGOs. To further honour our commitment to compliance with the IFC Performance Standards, Nord Stream 2 has also identified additional stakeholders.
An assessment of possible alternative locations was carried out, considering environmental, social and engineering evaluations for three identified landfall options. Ultimately the Lubmin landfall option was selected on account of a combination of lower environmental impacts, such as the avoidance of environmentally sensitive areas and optimising technical conditions.
Potential impacts from the German components of the project are presented in the EIA. Through careful application of appropriate mitigation measures to avoid and minimise impacts, we have avoided significant impacts on biodiversity, despite the pipeline route crossing close to or through a number of nationally and internationally protected sites. Following mitigation, no significant impacts are expected.
Compensation for on- and offshore construction is required in line with national regulations. However, as our initial compensation concept was met with strong objection from farmers’ associations and private landowners, we revised the concept to improve water quality and ecological conditions of water bodies in the Bay of Greifswald. The updated compensation concept includes the purchase of ecobonds from an available eco-account, the implementation of a wetland restoration project and the upgrade of wastewater treatment plants. This concept was approved by the German authorities in January 2018.
To demonstrate our commitment to avoiding impacts to ecosystem services we have also developed an Ecosystem Services Assessment (ESA). The report found that the Russian section of the project does affect the availability of services to beneficiaries due to the small footprint of the project in relation to the extension of and access to the ecosystems. In Germany, as the Lubmin 2 area is zoned for development and situated in an already developed area, no significant impacts to ecosystem services are expected. We have minimised any impacts on tourism and recreation through avoiding conflict and competition with tourist accommodation and design measures such as microtunnelling, which did not disturb the tourist beaches.
Offshore, the pipeline construction plan has been designed to avoid sensitive areas and sensitive seasons. Baseline data collection utilised monitoring data collected for the existing Nord Stream pipeline where possible. The only potential significant residual impact to offshore Critical Habitat-qualifying features (i.e. marine mammals) is from the clearance of unexploded ordnance. Measures for minimising impacts from munitions clearance are recorded in our Environmental and Social Management Plans and in individual clearance plans and reports for the more than 80 munitions cleared.