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  Handing on
our Heritage

Code of Practice Pointers


Procedures affecting decision-making including conservation + enhancement


- Greater integration of landscape and biological diversity is required in the development of transport policies and infrastructure. Its inclusion is fundamental to the development of a more sustainable transport network across the European region. Already tested procedures are available to assist with sound decisions making but these need wider application.


Procedures affecting decision-making


- 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.


Protection (conservation + enhancement) of landscapes, habitats and species


- Transport routes should seek to avoid legally protected areas and species including under the European Union’s Habitats Directive, and Birds Directive, and those protected by international agreements including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Berne, Ramsar and World Heritage Conventions.

- Throughout the planning, design and implementation of transport schemes there is a need to promote an awareness and implement legislation relating to protected landscapes, habitats and species.

- Consideration of the wider countryside should include developing opportunities for enhancement of landscapes and habitats, and the establishment of links with the Pan

European Ecological Network.


Knowledge + understanding


Greater integration requires specialist knowledge and understanding. It emphasises the need for dialogue between members of the engineering and environmental teams; and the need for public participation within the process including with those living locally. There is a particular need to understand and accommodate the dynamic nature of both landscape and biological diversity.


- Document and communicate base data locating valued and/or sensitive landscapes, habitats and species including data from national and local voluntary sources. Encourage the establishment of databases for biological records.

- Understand landscape and ecological processes including the spatial and temporal aspects of landscape, habitat and species.

- Progress the level of data in relation to the stage of scheme design, but when collecting data remember to accommodate seasonal constraints.

- Understand the interactions with other aspects such as the engineering requirements and socio-economic linkages.

- Consult and inform those affected and interested in the scheme as soon as possible and throughout the process.

- Develop a mutual understanding between the client, engineer and environmental specialists including using techniques such as training and workshops.


Project development + management


In the development of transport schemes a multidisciplinary approach is required at all stages with a need to incorporate an interactive approach to both the design and subsequent management. Environmental management and risk assessment procedures assist in informing those involved with constructing and managing schemes as well as those living in the locality. Project development and management subdivide into the stages of planning, design, implementation, and site management.




- Adopt an approach, which seeks to avoid, mitigate and compensate. In the first instance consider the less harmful options.

- Include an early consideration of landscape and biological diversity within the planning


- Focus on significant landscapes/habitats species, for example resolving the effects on threatened species; but do not overlook commonly occurring features of the wider landscape.

- Co-ordinate schemes in transboundary locations




- Relate scheme design and management to the character of the landscape/ scenery and biological diversity in the area

- Adopt a flexible approach to engineering design standards/criteria to accommodate the character and value of the landscape/habitat/species in the area. Consider the appropriateness of standard solutions in the local context.

- Be reactive to opportunities for enhancement/maximising benefits, and minimising disbenefits including fitting the scheme into the wider landscape and relating it to the biological context.


Implementation + construction


- Pay attention to detailed design with respect to the visual and ecological aspects including the use of fauna-friendly designs.

- Initiate/implement procedures to enable the acquisition of appropriate land for environmental mitigation.

- Apply best available technology, including surface materials, feasibility of recycling and recycling of materials/surplus spoil.

- Assess the environmental effects of siting construction camps, storage areas and future associated developments, e.g. service station/marinas, maintenance depot.

- Retain specialists to monitor environmental compliance on site, including during the construction period.

- Inform and involve local organisations/people in these stages.


Site management + maintenance


- Incorporate natural life cycles into maintenance plans, for example the long term development of vegetation. 

- Understand and incorporate maintenance requirements and relate to local practices,.

- Establish and review management practices with respect to opportunities for landscape and wildlife enhancement.

- Monitor functioning/performance of environmental measures, for example passages for wildlife, water quality, and adjust as necessary.


Assessment, review and research


To ensure that effective solutions are being applied, monitoring and research is required. The findings of tested and tried methods should be disseminated to a wide audience and include an exchange of ideas.


- Co-ordinate and encourage a pan-European-wide exchange of Design Manuals and Method Statements. Relate these to landscape and habitat types, and encompass languages.

- Encourage an exchange of approach between those involved with the design of roads, railways and waterways.

- Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of environmental measures and disseminate information relating to new or improved techniques.

- Encourage the application of scientific research to the development of practical procedures and methods.

- Promote further research into the special ecological and landscape implications associated with railways and waterways.


"The biological and landscape diversity of Europe – the variety of flora, fauna, ecosystems and landscapes – is one of our greatest riches. The importance of European nature extends far beyond the boundaries of the continent – it is a vital element in the global ecosystem.


In recent years, European biological and landscape diversity has been in decline: important natural habitats and man-made landscapes have been lost, plant and animal species are under threat. Stopping and reversing this decline is the shared responsibility of the people and nations of Europe. We must pass on our natural heritage – in all its diversity – to future generations as a sustainable system."

Philosophy of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy, Council of Europe 1996



Aims and objectives of the Code


The Code of Practice has been produced as part of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Strategy (Council of Europe 1996). It aims to assist elected representatives, decision makers, and practitioners as well as nature conservation bodies in the understanding of the main issues and solutions associated with the planning, design and use of linear transportation networks i.e. roads, railways and inland navigation channels, in relation to the landscape and biological diversity.


The Code addresses concerns over a number of planned transport routes in Europe, which threaten protected areas and species. The effects of existing poorly planned and designed transport routes are only too apparent including;


- scars on the landscape visible over a wide area;

- dramatic change of landscape character particularly on account of differences of scale resulting from built structures;

- fragmentation of the landscape/ habitats;

- reduction in tranquillity;

- direct loss of protected and therefore valued habitats and species;

- indirect and cumulative/more subtle detrimental effects on landscapes/habitats and species with implications relating to the environment as well as the vehicle/ user safety.


Such effects can reduce the value of the natural environmental capital or features of an area and add to the problems of conserving and enhancing already threatened protected areas and species. These detrimental effects can be more exaggerated by lack of coordination in trans boundary locations. Improved planning and knowledge can provide solutions by adopting an approach, which seeks to avoid, mitigate, and for negative effects. Also, improved planning and maintenance along existing and new routes can realise the value of the soft estate areas usually with some form of vegetation within transport corridors but which transport users do not travel along provide the catalyst to enhance degraded landscapes and habitats.


Structure of the Code


By way of background the rest of this section provides details on the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Strategy and the extent of the transport network across its region. Related transport and sustainable development policies, and other initiatives are described in Section 2. Section 3 considers a number of common principles applicable to roads, railways and waterways including critical legislation and requirements for knowledge. A comparison of common effects is given in Section 4. 


By way of illustration Section 5 examines problems and opportunities arising from the design, construction and use of roads, railways and waterways. Section 6 considers monitoring the need for exchanges of experience and research requirements. Conclusions are presented in the final section. Code of Practice Pointers have been inserted at the beginning of each sub section and are printed in italics.. Summaries of supporting technical papers are given in the Appendix and the full versions of the papers are presented in a separate volume.  

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