Technical Papers: Landscape
by Mr Roger J. Cooper, United Kingdom
we see is an expression of the participation of mankind in the shaping of his
environment. One instrument for landscape change is the power of socio-economic
forces. Transport is an agent for such change by permitting the equalisation of
socio-economic systems and with it the homogenisation of landscapes.
The Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (1996) notes that one of Europe’s greatest riches lies in its biological and landscape diversity, but also notes that this diversity is under threat. Its vision is to reduce that threat, partly by seeking to strengthen biological and landscape considerations in all socio-economic sectors, including transport. More recently, the European Landscape Convention (2000) acknowledges that European landscapes represent a common resource. It is important therefore to co-operation towards its protection, management and planning. This applies to all landscapes: natural, rural, urban, peri-urban and transfrontier. Specifically, Article 5 lays down the general measures necessary to implement the Convention. Actions include the systematic accommodation of landscape consideration into various policy sectors, which may either directly or indirectly impact upon it, including transport.
recognition in the framing and implementation of socio-economic policies is of
vital importance. History has shown us that transport is a key factor in
changing the relationship between town and country, such that local responses
are exposed to and potentially overwhelmed by external influences.
transport corridor consists of the on-line element viz the vehicle; the track;
the accommodation works (ie. all those required to engineer the route into the
landscape) and the ancillary structures; and the off line element – that is
the zone around the route which is impacted by it. The characteristics of the
on-line elements, and consequently some of the potential for impact on its
surrounds, will vary from mode to mode. All modes, however, share certain
characteristics which impact upon the landscape, namely: movement; linearity;
geometry; disturbance; externality. Each mode, however, will have a
characteristic signature. Modal choice can thus influence impact.
the landscape will always attract the eye. The movement of transport is highly
directional and concerted. It penetrates rather than permeates the landscape,
although perhaps less so for water borne traffic. The linearity of transport
systems can exhibit great continuity through the landscape which tends to be
divisive. It challenges the coherence of a landscape and has fragmentary
effects. Transport also brings disturbance to the landscape as a source of
noise, movement and light, thus compromising tranquillity and the natural order
of systems through which it passes. Externality is a marked characteristic of
modern transport systems. Indeed the inter-urban transport corridor, by its very
raison d’ętre, is inherently alien to the countryside through which it
It is often
the very remoteness, either actual or relative inaccessibility, of Europe’s
wildscapes that has helped to preserve them as such. The same is true of
distinctive, traditional landscapes. At strategic level, therefore, it is
important that where policies or programmes either directly or indirectly extend
or improve the transport linkages of such sensitive areas, so making them more
permeable to external influences, that the potentially destabilising effects on
their landscape equilibrium is recognised.
implemented, the transport route imposes its own aesthetic on the immediate
landscape. A multi-disciplinary approach to mitigation at all scales and stages
of the development process is necessary therefore if integration with the
landscape is to be successful. The guiding principle should be that although the
mitigation is targeted at off setting the characteristics of the transport
corridor, its method of delivery should have its origins in the character of the
landscape that is affected.
mitigation should not simply just figure as applied treatments, but rather be
fully integrated with scheme engineering. Design and operating standards need to
be flexible. Harmonisation of standards across Europe in the interest of
operational efficiency must be matched in areas of recognised threat to
landscape diversity by the ability to design infrastructure in recognition of
the capacity of the affected landscape to absorb it.
In respect of
the characteristics of the transport corridor, the impact of movement can really
only be mitigated by screening. For linearity, the objective should be to break
down the directionality and continuity through the corridor. Recognition of the
local characteristics, rather than standardised solutions, is important to
reducing externality. Moreover, it is usually better to harness or channel the
natural processes of the area in pursuit of scheme design objectives so as the
sooner to achieve an equilibrium and a seamless blend into its surroundings.
Finally the successful mitigation of a scheme’s principal landscape impacts
should not be undermined by lack of attention to its ancillary elements.
of the landscape considerations and objectives into the frameworks, policies,
standards, and actions involved in the development and management of transport
infrastructure in Europe would be an important contribution towards preserving
landscape diversity and reducing the risk of the continent’s landscapes
becoming uniform and monotonous. Respect for, and understanding of, the
influence of transport projects is a fundamental requirement that underpins the
future of European landscapes as a continuing source of natural and economic
productivity – as well as pleasure – wonderment and inspiration.