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  Handing on
our Heritage

Knowledge and understanding

Code of Practice Pointers


– 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 by training and workshops.


Application of SEA or EIA should assist in balanced decision making for the approval of transport plans and projects. Greater emphasis needs to be given to the application of environmental assessment where required, throughout the decision making process, rather than a one-off examination required for building consent only. Within this process knowledge and understanding are essential at a political and technical level.



Knowledge is a fundamental part of the planning process associated with the development of the linear transport schemes (Box 3.5) Three perspectives interplay:

- an understanding of what the scheme comprises in relation to the overall objectives including aspects such as design and safety standards with associated implications relating to vertical and horizontal alignment, construction method, and user characteristics i.e. type and quantity;

- an understanding of the landscape and biological diversity features involved, including their importance, internal dynamics and external influences; and the effects of the transport infrastructure on them.

- an understanding of the effects of the infrastructure beyond the immediate confines of the proposals within the assessment.


Data relating to biological and other environmental records are essential in the application of EIA. The co ordination and establishment of such data bases greatly assists with EIA and should be encouraged. The level of detail required for this information partly relates to the stage of the scheme as well as what is practicable and reasonable. ‘’Snap shot’’ biological records can be misleading and seasonal constraints to data collection need to be accommodated in the overall programme of the scheme. Apparently premature or on going collection of data can be importanteven if the collection is not in line with requirements of the proposals at that time. Statutory and non-governmental bodies may be able to assist in the provision of data.


Knowledge of the geographical distribution of assets should be accompanied by specialist knowledge on the functioning of the landscape/habitat /species. On account of the indirect wide reaching effects of transport schemes this needs to relate to an area beyond the immediate confines of the engineering structures depending on the features involved.


Early involvement of specialists within the design team assists with developing cost-effective solutions in an interactive way; for example the location and type of crossing facility for animal movement (Box 3.6) and user safety; or the alignment over steeply sloping land so as to minimise long distance views; or the need to acquire land in order to implement mitigation measures outside the immediate confines of the engineering structure or boundary fence line. Sometimes little scientific information is available on the distribution or habitat requirements of a particular species affected by the scheme. In such cases the precautionary principle should apply.




Actions of the client/developer can be driven by legislation and funding as well as advice from the technical team and/or public pressure, neither of which the client need accept. Traditionally, engineers have led the design and construction of transport schemes, with some fine results. Today, the speed of development pressures together with the multi-faceted and technical nature of schemes demands specialist knowledge including that relating to environmental considerations and legal requirements. Balanced mixed discipline teams assist in this process, but ultimately it is the “client” who has overall control of the work.


The client needs to understand the basis for decisions and any legal requirements. Mutual understanding between the client, engineer and the environmental specialists is needed. For example, so that the engineer understands the broad ecological and landscape objectives and constraints. Likewise, in order to make practical rather than theoretical recommendations, the landscape or biological specialist should have a pragmatic understanding of the nature and scale of large civil engineering transport schemes, including the contractual process. An interactive approach to design and management together with team meetings are advocated to develop an understanding of requirements as well as keeping abreast of the range of ongoing issues.


In a similar way at the construction stage, a relationship needs to be developed between the designer and the contractor to make certain that specified written environmental objectives are correctly implemented on the ground. A culture of awareness is required to ensure that the right messages are passed through to the machine operators on the “cutting face”. The application of environmental management for example ISO 14001, training and workshops are ways of assisting in this process.


Box 3.5 General landscape and biodiversity effects associated with the structural and user characteristics of linear transport.


Structural Characteristics

Horizontal and vertical alignment influenced by safety/speed standards of user, e.g. steam v. high-speed train.

Land take affected by alignment.

Tunnels/ bridges have set clearance standards.

Ancillary structures and equipment including lighting, fencing, provision of drainage,

Construction activity dominated by earthworks.

Cut across landscapes/habitats providing linkages or fragmentation.

Potential to fragment habitats and landscapes with associated wide-reaching implications.

Potential to disturb natural drainage patterns and microclimate,

Embankments and cuttings available for habitat creation and/or visual integration,

Land acquisition/ redistribution can limit scope of mitigation measures.

Habitat destruction can result in wider indirect effects.


User Characteristics

Linear conduits provide access for goods/people/services as part of transport hierarchy.

Link centres of population or economic activity.

May contain and/or encourage other development resulting in changes in land use.

Structural characteristics influenced by type of locomotive/ vehicle and this is subject to technological change.

Out-moded infrastructure such as abandoned railways or canals may have associated wildlife/ historical/ amenity value, including for recreation.

Air, water and soil/vegetation pollution risk associated with users.

Maintenance programmes of verges essential for users, but provide opportunities for enhancement of associated wildlife/amenity/historical value.


In Estonia, until recently traffic has not been a problem to animals. This has changed. An underpass was built on the Tallinn to Tartu road but is not used, largely on account of insufficient study of their movements.


In the United Kingdom, a proposed motorway passed between two separate woodlands. A large roe deer population were present in both woods and moved between them. Deer fencing was required along the road and an underpass incorporating a small stream was identified as a crossing point, however the original proposed dimensions would have been off putting for use by roe deer. A change in embankment design enabled a more suitable size of underpass with associated cost savings.


In the Netherlands, the dense transport network has partly caused the fragmentation of green spaces with associated detrimental effects to certain wildlife. In an attempt to reverse the process the government has established a policy of de-fragmentation covering existing and proposed sections of the network. Work has included the construction and enhancement of eco ducts (special animal crossings), and verge management. Monitoring is undertaken to check for the effectiveness of the measures.




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