We in the West Link Project: Mira Andersson Ovuka is the project's Environmental Specialist.
What is your background, and how did you end up in the West Link Project?
I have an MSc in Geology and a PhD in Physical Geography. Since submitting my thesis in 2000, I have worked with environmental issues as a consultant, both nationally and internationally. I worked for SIDA (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) in Bangkok, for example. When the planning and designing of the West Link began in 2011, I entered as an Environmental Specialist for the Swedish Transport Agministration and in the project.
What does your role in the West Link Project entail?
I work with the environmental questions in the project in close contact with the County Administrative board and the Environmental Administration under the City of Gothenburg. The environmental questions concern everything from cultural environment to air and water quality, noise and the preservation of lichen. Between 2011 and 2014, the project was producing an environmental impact assessment for the West Link, and it was my task to coordinate this work. Now my job is to ensure that we bring the questions we have worked with into the next phase, to the detailed development plan and further into the construction phase.
What is the greatest challenge of the West Link Project, from your perspective?
Due to the size of the project, there are a lot of environmental questions which also have a great variation of character. Some issues are very site-specific and it is important to include them in the greater environmental work, where for example the issues concerning cultural environment play a big part. But the minor issues are just as important, such as how we can preserve the protected greenshield lichen during construction work.
Another challenge is to communicate and disseminate the knowledge of environmental issues generated within the project. We must communicate the entire project, which means many small details together with a whole.
How do you solve the challenges?
Our way of working involves making environmental checklists which we bring from one stage to the next in order to ensure that we bring all environmental issues in the continued work. The questions from the planning process will, for example, be worked into the tender documents, which we are working with at the moment. With regard to the dissemination of knowledge, continuous dialogue and communication with everyone involved – both internally and externally – is the only way to go.
What is the most fun part of your job?
The challenges. It's also fun that I get to learn a lot about other areas than my own in my daily job. Therefore it's good that I have such competent colleagues to learn from. I wouldn't be able to produce an environmental impact assessment or continue the environmental work on my own if the whole project wasn't there alongside me, with my colleagues contributing.
What do you do to relax?
I like to read and work in the garden, and I have family that I spend a lot of time with.
Do you talk about the West Link Project a lot in your spare time?
I did in the beginning, when it was all new and I just had started working in the project. Now I try not to talk about work when I'm out of the office, so I really can enjoy my spare time.