Overview

Transport Scotland acknowledges and respects our country's remarkable landscape and wildlife. We have a duty to build safe and reliable transport networks that are fit for purpose, but we must do this in a way that preserves the natural, built and historic environment of Scotland.

This duty includes:

  • ensuring consideration of the local landscape in the development of new schemes
  • managing and maintaining landscape areas within transport corridors to reflect local conditions and requirements without compromising safety
  • protecting the variety of wildlife and habitats that come into contact with our transport networks

Our policy  

The richly varied landscape of Scotland is an integral part of the lives of those living here and one of the primary attractions for the many thousands of people visiting the country every year.

In the course of the work that we do, we have a duty to respect, protect and, where possible, enhance this natural resource ensuring it remains a valued part of the lives of future generations.

Transport Scotland has developed a policy statement to address the landscape design and management of our transport corridors making sure any operations or interventions undertaken not only meet their functional objectives but also fit with the landscape through which they pass.

This objective is reflected in the policy title: Fitting Landscapes.

The policy vision is to promote more sustainable design, implementation, management and maintenance of the transport estate. We will ensure that the landscapes we create and manage are of high quality, well integrated, bio-diverse, adaptable and deliver a meaningful contribution to national sustainability targets.

To achieve this vision, the policy supports the following key aims:

  • ensuring high quality of design and place
  • enhancing and protect natural heritage
  • using resources wisely
  • building in adaptability to change

Application of the policy must be used for the planning, design, implementation and maintenance of all Transport Scotland projects, whether associated with the construction of new infrastructure or the management of the existing resource

Landscape

It is important that Scotland’s transport corridors are designed and managed with a healthy respect for the adjacent landscape – reflecting local distinctiveness, conserving and enhancing areas of high quality or, where appropriate, creating positive contrast within the natural setting.

Transport Scotland is responsible for trunk roads, rail corridors and cycle paths stretching the length and breadth of Scotland, passing through a rich variation of landscapes. These include:

  • urban and rural areas
  • rolling lowland plains and rugged highland passes
  • areas of native and commercial woodland
  • open expanses of heather moorland
  • exposed rocky and coastlines and inland glens
  • burns, rivers and lochs

Our Fitting Landscapes policy ensures that all strategic transport corridors are created and managed in an efficient, sustainable and adaptable manner. All interventions should be high quality and designed to integrate with local characteristics.

The policy has been developed to assist with:

  • maintaining a safe and reliable trunk road network
  • promoting and sustaining healthy growth
  • assisting transport corridors to integrate as far as possible with the surrounding landscape character
  • encouraging high quality design and place-making
  • minimising driver visibility issues and problems with vegetation encroachment
  • protecting and enhancing biodiversity and reducing habitat fragmentation
  • ensuring the soft estate is as sustainable and self-reliant as possible

The policy aligns Transport Scotland's approach to landscape and biodiversity with other related Scottish Government policies. It forms and important element in delivering the 'Greener' strategic objective, which drives us to improve Scotland's natural and built environment, as well as the sustainable use and enjoyment of it.

Trunk road management

The Transport Scotland landscape policy is applicable to both maintenance issues and the delivery of new schemes. Our contracted operating companies are responsible for the maintenance of our trunk road network. As part of this role, they take on responsibility for the preparation and delivery of the following landscape information:

  • a unit-wide landscape strategy
  • an annual landscape development plan
  • an annual report

The operating companies take on duties such as regular grass cutting, verge maintenance and the control of invasive species. They must also ensure that the works they carry out support the promotion of biodiversity and conservation interests. This may require the careful use of pesticides and sensitive management of wildlife issues.

Transport Scotland spends in excess of £4 million each year on the maintenance and management of the trunk road landscape.

Biodiversity

There is an inextricable link between landscape and biodiversity. The boundaries of Scotland's transport networks support a rich variety of wildlife - both flora and fauna.

Our transport networks provide valuable habitats for a range of protected species that are of national or international importance, as well as many more commonly-found species.

Road and rail verges and embankments provide a vital resource that support plant and animal communities which, in some cases, may struggle to survive in the context of intensive farming practices and an increasing demand for development land.

We ensure that, wherever possible, any management interventions are designed to meet the complex balance that includes:

  • protecting and enhancing roadside biodiversity
  • respecting and integrating with the wide environment
  • responding to the needs and safety of drivers

We hold regular liaison meetings with other agencies and organisations, both public and private, to respond to all environmental matters in the swiftest and most appropriate manner. These can be on a local, regional or national scale.

Any mitigation will always be developed with respect for the natural characteristics and local distinctiveness of the environment within which we operate.

Wildlife and roads

Scotland's trunk road network supports approximately 40% of all national traffic movements and this volume of traffic can have a significant impact on local wildlife.

The potential conflict between traffic and animals not only represents a welfare issue for the animals concerned but can also be a risk to motorists. Transport Scotland works hard to ensure that new transport developments avoid impacting on or causing fragmentation of adjacent habitats. Where this is unavoidable, we build effective and appropriate mitigation into the design.

The operating companies are required to maintain records of wild animal road casualties. This information is analysed to determine where specific movement patterns occur in order to identify 'hot spots' of traffic-animal incidents that may require further investigation. The data is then used in the development of mitigation proposals aimed at reducing the risk to both animal species and road users.

Deer management

Transport Scotland also works closely with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in relation to the management and impact of wild deer on trunk roads.

We implement a range of mitigation measures, including the targeted use of variable message signs that display warnings to motorists. The relevant signs are activated at appropriate times of the year to warn drivers of the potential risk of crossing deer.

Our contracted operating companies are also required to prepare deer management plans to help with sustainable management of wild deer as they affect the trunk road network.

Deer management issues on roads are not limited to impacts involving red deer in the Highlands; our collaboration with SNH also extends to a multi-agency liaison for the effects of roe deer and other non-native species in lowland and urban-fringe areas.