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  Handing on
our Heritage


The Pan-European Biological and Landscape Strategy (1996) aims to halt the degradation of landscape and biological diversity across the European region. Action Theme 2 of the Strategy relates to the integration of landscape and biological diversity into other sectors including transport. This Code of Practice is a contribution to progress taking forward this Action Theme forward. The Code relates to linear transport systems, comprising roads, railways and inland navigation along waterways, such as canals and rivers. 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. Other modes of transport are outside the scope of this Code.

The Code consists of three parts at different levels of detail:

- this summary including the Code of Practice Pointers – provides the main recommendations of the Code in an easily accessible form;

- the main text of the Code;

- supporting technical papers giving more detail and examples – provided the main source of information for the Code. A summary of each paper is included with the main text of the Code. The full versions are available separately.


The main text of the Code provides background information on the existing and proposed extent of the Strategic Pan-European transport network; and on the legal and policy background to transport and landscape and biological diversity within a sustainable development context.


Across the pan-European Region, the linear transport network is characterised by areas of growth and of consolidation. Both can result in significant adverse or beneficial effects for landscape and biological diversity. Importantly the effects of construction, and use of types linear transport systems extend beyond the immediate confines of the scheme. Examples include land use changes and the loss and fragmentation of habitats. Associated with construction the main negative impact on the landscape and biological diversity arises from differences in scale, land take and fragmentation. 


The ongoing user effects in particular relate to vehicle frequency and associated noise, air and water pollution. User safety can be affected by wildlife crossing the road/ track. Levels of animal mortality resulting from collisions can significantly affect populations of wildlife already under stress. Monotonous alignments and roadside landscapes can induce sleep resulting in accidents.


Areas protected for landscape and biological diversity are particularly vulnerable to transport schemes and should be avoided. As such areas only protect a small proportion of diversity the effects to the wider countryside should not be overlooked. Transport planning and design should adopt an approach which seeks to avoid impacts, where this is not possible, it should identify the best practical mitigation options and as a last resort use compensation measures such as translocation. With adequate planning, proposed and existing transport networks may be able to incorporate positive measures for enhancing landscape and biological diversity.

The planning of transport schemes is supported by legislation and conventions including for protected areas landscapes, habitats and species. Strategic Environmental Assessment provides an early overview of the implications of transport plans and is required under the Espoo Convention and the subject of a draft European Union Directive. Its application reduces the potential risk of transport infrastructure conflicting with valued protected landscapes and habitats.


Environmental impact assessment is a legal requirement for the approval of the majority of major transport schemes particularly in the European Union. Also, it is required by a number of Conventions. Regardless of any legal obligations Environmental Impact Assessment is recommended to aid decision-making in all transport schemes including those supported by donors. The Environmental Impact Assessment procedure should permeate every stage of the planning, design, construction and maintenance of schemes to enable sound decisions to be made in the light of the best information. This necessitates co-ordination across disciplines and an understanding of the dynamic character of the landscape, habitats and species as well as the design and user characteristics of the scheme itself. The attention to detail is all-important.


During the construction and maintenance stages environmental management procedures including monitoring assist with the successful incorporation of measures on the ground to reduce adverse effects.


Although sometimes restricted by land acquisition, a number of opportunities for landscape and wildlife enhancement are associated with the design and management of the soft estate particularly in degraded landscapes and to provide connections with networks such as the Pan-European Ecological Network.


The Code recognises that a number of principles are applicable across the transport sector, however in addition there are a number of significant differences between road, rail and waterways. Also, the application in detail will vary between states depending on the economy, landscape character, biological diversity and capacity. The Code of Practice Pointers presented below, are included in the main text in the section to which they relate. They have been subdivided under four headings: procedures affecting decision making including conservation, enhancement, knowledge and understanding. Project development and management, assessment, review and research. Inevitably there is a degree of overlap in their application between these headings.


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