Key Components of a Site Environmental Management Plan (SEMP)

Key Components of a Site Environmental Management Plan (SEMP)

Nicolaas Kerkmeester December 01, 2022

A Site Environmental Management Plan (SEMP) is a site-specific document identifying the environmental aspects of an activity; the potential impacts of the activity on these environmental aspect; and ways in which these impacts can be reduced through management strategies and site practices. 

In simple terms, the main focus of a SEMP is the development of a plan that is specific to an activity and outlines:

– The activity to be undertaken

– Relevant environmental aspects

– Potential impacts of the activity on these aspects

– How these impacts will be managed through implementation and monitoring

Description of Activity

The SEMP should describe the activity to be undertaken. This should define the nature and scope of the activity and include the location, phases of work and timing/scheduling. The level of detail of the activity description should be sufficient to provide an understanding of each process and allow determination of the environmental potential impacts. 

The SEMP should include a description of any relevant approval conditions and internal or client management requirements. The plan should distinguish between construction and operational activities, if relevant.

A site plan or drawing should also be included with the following:

– Location of work areas and access

– Environmental aspects such as waterways, native vegetation, residential housing etc

– Locations of environmental protection measures

Environmental Aspects

The SEMP should identify the environmental aspects located within or surrounding the activity area. The types of environmental aspects that need to be considered may include the following: 

– Erosion and sedimentation

– Water management including stormwater

– Dust and air quality management

– Noise and vibration

– Waste minimisation and management 

– Hazardous materials storage and use

– Flora and fauna including weeds

– Indigenous and non-indigenous heritage

– Rehabilitation 

Potential Impacts on Environmental Aspects

It is important to understand the link between the activities and environmental aspects. An assessment should be undertaken to identify potential environmental impacts of the activity including the nature and extent of the impacts; short-term and long-term effects; and any uncertainties regarding the predicted impacts. This assessment requires two steps as detailed below.

Step 1: Identify the environmental aspects 

The types of environmental aspects are listed above. There may be generic risks that relate to all of your activities, such as waste and chemical management, and then also site-specific aspects, such as surrounding vegetation, erosion and sediment and nearby houses.

Step 2: Undertake a risk assessment

Based on the environmental aspects, document the likelihood and consequence of impacts from the activity:


What is the likelihood that the aspect will impact the environment?

Certain = Will occur at a frequency greater than every week if preventative measures are not applied.

Likely = Will occur more than once or twice but less than weekly if preventative measures are not applied.

Unlikely = This might occur once or twice during the project if preventative measures are not applied.

Rare = Unlikely to occur during a project even if controls are missing.

Potential Impact

How severe will the potential impact be?

Catastrophic = Significant damage or impact on the environment or community

Major = Major adverse environmental or social impacts

Moderate = Moderate undesirable environmental or social impacts 

Minor = No or minimal adverse environmental or social impacts 

The level of risk to an environmental aspect will determine the type and amount of mitigation and management measures that will be required. Where a significant risk to the environment has been identified, environmental protection measures must be introduced to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Aspects with a medium or low risk should also have practicable management measures implemented if these can further reduce risk. The types of management measures are detailed in the next Section.

Managing Environmental Impacts

The types of measures that may be implemented for controlling potential impacts on environmental aspects may include:

– Water diversion structures

– Soil stabilisation measures

– Sediment retention structures

– Vehicle, machinery and equipment cleaning mechanisms

– Waste separation and containment 

– Bunding and other spill prevention 

– Flora and fauna protection mechanisms

– Archaeological/heritage protection mechanisms

Monitoring the Effectiveness of Environmental Controls

The SEMP should specify how the effectiveness of environmental controls will be monitored. It should include the methodology, frequency and duration of monitoring activities. It should include trigger values or conditions under which corrective actions will be taken. The plan should also specify if, and when, follow-up action is required and how monitoring records will be maintained.

An example of environmental monitoring is the implementation of a Weekly Environmental Inspection to check environmental controls throughout the activity. The trigger point would be non-compliance with any of the requirements in the Weekly Environmental Inspection Checklist. This would then require an assessment of the effectiveness of the controls and the potential implementation of additional or revised controls.

Further Information on Environmental Management Plans

For information see our Environmental Management Plans article.

How We Can Help 

Applied Environment & Safety has vast experience in the development and implementation of Site Environmental Management Plans. We supported our client in the development and implementation of site-specific management plans.

PCA Ground Engineering was engaged by the local Council to undertake a road embankment stabilisation project at Sunrise Beach, Noosa, Queensland. The works were vital to maintaining the long-term serviceability of the road and drainage infrastructure at this location. 

We developed the Environmental Management Plan; Sediment and Erosion Control Plan; and Rehabilitation Plan. The environmental aspects of the project included:

– Erosion and sediment control

– Biosecurity management 

– Waste management

– Rehabilitation

We believe in using our expertise and knowledge improve project outcomes for our clients. We use our extensive construction knowledge to identify environmental risks and provide practical solutions.

Environmental plans and controls were effectively implemented during this project. We believe in working closely with our clients to build supportive relationships. By working together, we ensured environmental risks were mitigated during this project.