opportunities - Landscape
landscapes, beauty spots and sites of cultural significance (views in and out)
including IUCN Category V (National Parks) and World Heritage Sites are areas
where perhaps most care should be exercised in the planning of new schemes but
not exclusively. Care needs to be exercised along the boundaries of such areas
depending on their robustness; strict avoidance or breaching a boundary line
could result in a greater landscape impact than an alignment within it. Much
depends on landscape character, scale and grain in relation to the direction of
the route, for example avoid creating nicks by earthwork cuttings and vegetation
clearance on the skyline of an escarpment, avoid the need for great embankments
on the valley floor or cuttings creating scars on bluffs of hillsides, avoid
alignments along the immediate foreshore in lakeside locations (Cooper 2000).
assessment as part of the EIA requires an understanding of the character and the
dynamics of the wider area through which a route passes including the way that
the landscape is likely to respond in the longer term – for example loss of
hedgerows in the adjacent area through land exchange, or pressures for built
development associated with improved access. Early anticipation can assist in
safeguarding significant features of landscape, historical and cultural value.
Where possible the environmental assessment should enable the selection of an
alignment which can flow with the landscape.
At a further level
of detail, and to improve integration into the wider landscape is the design of
structures. These should respond to the local landscape character and small
adaptations may be able to provide facilities for wildlife crossings (Highways
Agency (1996). Other structures such as noise barriers associated with certain
roads and railways require integration and can double up as visual barriers
Roads can cause
significant changes in the landscape with consequential implications to
diversity. The assessment of roads in the landscape needs to be considered both
from the road and of the road. The former relates the road user experience and
influences driver safety for example induced drowsiness from a long straight
alignment. The view of the road can dramatically alter the landscape with
respect to the road itself and day and night time movement from vehicles.
Lighting can be particularly disruptive in a remote landscape on account of the
night-time "glow" and regular occurrence of lighting columns. Upgraded
roads are vulnerable to future built development on account of improved access.
Planting of the road
embankments and off site areas can provide screening for both the engineered
structure and traffic movement but should be related to the landscape character.
Close liaison with the ecologist should assist with the appropriate habitat
enhancement/creation, for example species rich grassland, planting associated
with animal crossing points as well as the longer term management of the soft
Compared with roads,
the more restrictive vertical and horizontal alignment required for the railway
track reduce its flexibility to easily integrate with the landscape. In addition
crossing structures may need to be substantial, and clearance zones, including
cuttings are required to ensure safety from avalanches, falling rocks and trees.
Safety requirements can reduce the potential screening benefit of planting on
such embankments. Integration is simpler when the line is able to follow the
landscape grain e.g. round the side of a hill.
There is a need to
distinguish between long established parts of the network and those subject to
recent upgrading or construction. With the benefit of time some sections may
have integrated into the landscape but in other cases there is still discord
between the alignment and the present day landscape character.
to land take associated with construction differs on a national basis. In some
states compulsory purchase of land is restricted to that required directly for
rail building with proposals for wider scale remedial planting being the
responsibly of the municipality and the agreement of landowners therefore is
less certain (Bakker 1997).
structures associated with canals cut across the landscape with little relation
to the natural scale (depending on the size of the channel). In lowland areas
relatively small increases in height of an embankment are obvious over a wide
area, and can form a regular skyline dam-type feature across the landscape.
In contrast, the
natural origins of navigable rivers mean they are most closely linked with the
landscape character. However, the visual effects of canalisation, dams, bank
works and regularity of the flow for both navigation and flood prevention
purposes should not be underestimated, for example the loss of seasonal changes
associated with freezing, flooding, and low flow; irregular channels are
associated with braiding, islands, and marsh land (Travers Morgan, 1987). Such
regulation directly erodes the landscape diversity of river valleys. This is
particularly important to understand on account of the relatively few remaining
Large bridges are
often associated with navigations. These provide an opportunity for spectacular
structures, which can unify a landscape or create an eye sore! As with roads and
railways, bridges need to be appropriate to the landscape character and
attention to detail is all important (Highways Agency 1996).