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Co-operation in the fields of Scientific and Technical Research (COST)

 

The European Union has initiated a number of research programs including the European Co-operation in the fields of Scientific and Technical Research (COST). Transport forms a principle component of the programme. The associated Technical Committee is made up of representatives of 32 national governments and co-ordinates COST Actions. COST Action 341, “Habitat Fragmentation due to Transport Infrastructure” is of direct relevance and compliments this Code. In particular, it provides a greater level of detail at a technical level on fragmentation (European Commission 2000).

 

Action 341 seeks to address issues arising from transport-related schemes causing habitat fragmentation including adverse effects on habitats and species as well as on vehicular accidents. The outputs of the programme due for completion in 2003 will comprise:

 

- the production of a European review of habitat fragmentation due to linear transport infrastructure;

 

- the production of a European handbook of best practice providing solutions for dealing with the fragmentation effect of existing and proposed linear transport;

- the establishment of an online database of research and expertise in the subject to include existing literature, projects, mitigation measures and databases across Europe.

 

OECD

 

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has a road transport research programme. This provides member countries with an opportunity to contribute to the development of transport policies. Programmes encompass activities relating to sustainable transport development. Publications include the “Environmental Impact Assessment of Roads” (1994) and “Strategic Environmental Assessment – the Transport Sector” (1998). The latter arose from a European Conference of the Ministers of Transport.

 

Other OECD work on transport includes the ‘Environmentally Sustainable Transport’ project. This involved partners from 25 countries and UNEP. The project resulted in a series of guidelines, which received Ministerial endorsement. UNEP Regional Office for Europe is continuing this work on Environmentally Sustainable Transport.

 

National initiatives

 

At a national level, several governments and research institutions have co-ordinated research programmes relating to the landscape and biological diversity implications of transport schemes, some forming part of the COST 341 programme. A number of technical manuals have been produced including Norway, Scotland, England and Wales, Switzerland, Netherlands, France and Spain (Cur (1999), Dinetti (2000), Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (1993) Ministerio de Medio. Ambiente (2000) Muller and Berthoud (1999)). Mostly these relate to highways but may have application to railways and navigable waterways. Following the example set by COST Action 341; a comprehensive list of such Pan-European documents should be compiled to enable their use by a wider audience and encompassing languages.

 

COMMON PRINCIPLES

 

Introduction

 

The previous section provided some illustrations of the extent of the existing transport network together with an indication of planned proposals and noted the major differences in requirements within the Pan-European region. This section seeks to describe a number of principles common to the planning and design of transport schemes. The first part considers the legal framework and methods of approach.


Strategic and environmental impact assessment

 

Code of Practice Pointers

 

- For all infrastructure developments governments and/ or their agencies must apply strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and the more detailed environmental impact assessment (EIA). This should enable informed, sound decision making on the selection of modal choice, route corridors and subsequent fuller assessment of the effects of proposed schemes together with alternatives.

 

- Financial institutions/donors must require an EIA of transport projects that they propose to sponsor, and consider SEA carried out previously.

 

Background

 

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been variously defined and comprises a method and process whereby information about the environmental effects of a scheme is collected, assessed and used to inform decision-making. As such it should be a continuous process related to the various stages of scheme design and implementation. The application to strategic plans and policies is known as ‘strategic environmental assessment’ (SEA).

 

The formal application of EIA was first required in the United States in 1969, under the National Environmental Policy Act, since when it has been made a legal requirement in a number of other states world wide including the European Union. A draft European Directive has been prepared on SEA.

   

 
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